Contemporary Visions VI: Spotting Current Trends In Emerging Art

Beers London

Contemporary Visions VI is BEERS London’s sixth annual open-call group exhibition. This year, over 3,000 applicants were adjudicated by Kurt Beers, Director of BEERS London & Author of ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’, Victor Benady, London-based collector, Tony Godfrey, Curator & Author of Phaidon’s ‘Painting Today’, Alan Sastre, Artist & 2014 CV5 finalist, Helen Toomer, Director of PULSE Contemporary Art Fair and Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator & VP at Saatchi Art, former Director of Saatchi Gallery.     

Since its inception, Beer’s Contemporary Visions group exhibition has sought to identify current trends in contemporary art. In this our sixth year, the exhibition features ten emerging artists with a strong point of view and an artistic practice that shows distinct promise.  

Mikey Cook’s practice revolves around the use of classical influences alongside fictional narratives to suggest certain histories and formed identities. With works ranging from collage to sculpture, including large-scale wall pieces, his work often re-appropriates from historical references. Ultimately, Cook’s practice focuses on non-hierarchal modes of research, which leads him to question our perceptions of how we define reality. From this, he forms alternate histories and disguised narratives within a framework of truth.

Mikey Cook (b. 1989, United Kingdom) graduated in Fine Art Painting & Printmaking from the Glasgow School of Art (2013). Recent exhibitions include 24k gold Rita, Manchester (2015); A Statue is Present, London (2015) and Vernissage, Liverpool (2014).  Cook has been awarded the Hope Scott Trust bursary for visual arts along with the Chairman’s Medal for best in Glasgow School of Art fine art degree show (2013) and nominated for the Newbery Medal for best in School, as well as being selected for the Royal Scottish Academy New Contemporaries. Cook was the featured artist for both Young Artists in Conversation and The Catlin Guide (2014).

Byzantia Harlow focuses on participation, performativity, aspects of the ‘veneer’, analysis of social situations and subversion of expected interactions. It explores the nature of ‘space’ and mutual complicity between the ‘artist’ and the ‘audience’. Harlow believes that there can be a role of inter-changeability between the ‘artist’ and the ‘observer’ and she attempt’s to explore this interface. Engaging in discourse genres and exploring how these various genres may collide or coalesce. Harlow has an interest in artworks as a prompt for social interaction, artworks that form relationships rather than solely operating as objects. There are social and political aspects to her work, which pivot on points of value and authenticity, aspiration and desire – investigating commodity, branding, the unique object, the mass produced and cultural identity. The work considers the journey we take, upon looking, between ‘sightseer’ and being ‘implicated. It explores the idea of authorship, of tribute, positioning or posturing, of taking a stance or playing a role.

Byzantia Harlow (b. 1986, United Kingdom) recently graduated from studying an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art. Participated in several selected group shows, several curated by herself, including; Which One of These is the Non-Smoking Lifeboat, Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre Project Space, London (2015); Taking Shape Sculpture on the Verge, part of the Art Licks Weekend, London(2015); Franchise, Trial Shift, 1-10 Purcell street, London (2014), Insider Joke, Hockney Space, London (2014) and Life (Bildung), Barbican Centre, London, (2013). Harlow has been nominated for several prizes including the Red Mansion Art Prize, nominee (2015), Cowley Manor Arts Award, shortlisted (2015) and The Windle Charitable Trust Grant. Harlow has also participated in several residencies including Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre, Autumn Programme, London (2015). She also has had work published in Arc magazine.

Colleen Heslin constructs paintings using experimental mark making involving staining, dying and sewing techniques activated by formal abstraction. Her practice considers traditions of painting, with an interest in frayed boundaries between mediums. Employing deskilled labor through hands-on production, she seeks to explore metaphysical concerns relating to material and causality. 

Colleen Heslin (b. 1976, Canada) is an artist and independent curator based in Vancouver BC. With an MFA from Concordia University and a BFA from Emily Carr University, her work explores medium crossovers between painting, sculpture, fibers and photography. Heslin recently exhibited new work at the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver and currently has solo at the Esker Foundation in Calgary. She was the winner of the 2013 RBC Painting Competition and her work has been exhibited and published in Canada, USA, and Europe. Founder of The Crying Room Projects, a public independent project space from 1999-2014, Heslin facilitated public murals and exhibitions for emerging artists in Vancouver.

Christopher Joergensen uses photographs as a raw material to be transformed, alienated, multiplied, destroyed and reassembled. Combining manual and digital techniques, he contextualizes photographs and/or destroys their meaning with the aim of creating new space for the imagination within. Some of the works included in the exhibition are part of his ‘Plectage’ project, in which he has cut photographic prints and various materials into thin strips and then woven them together to form a grid-like collage. The photograph, entitled, ‘A Place to Be’, for instance, has been digitally blurred and saturated beforehand. When woven together the vivid colours playfully collide creating a new mental space for the viewer. Joergensen often creates a duality in his work that rests between contemplative and vivid to timeless but poignant.

Christoffer Joergensen (b. 1987, Denmark) obtained both MA in photography at the Royal College of Art, London (2004). Notable exhibitions include, Among Them, Gallery ArtHobler, Zurich (2014); Sphere Frontier, Gallery Christoffer Egelund, Copenhagen (2014) and Photography Is Not Enough, Copenhagen Foto Festival (2014). Joergensen was also awarded the Thames and Hudson Art Book Prize (2004). Joergensen currently lives and works in Switzerland.

Olaf Kühnemann generates playful situations, a process of renegotiation. Entering the boundaries of technical abilities to investigate the relationship between the individual object and its surroundings. Incorporating various mediums within his work to transmit an intimacy with no fixed narrative. His connected interest with the history of his family and family photographs plays an influential role in reflecting his belief that ‘transition is the only constant’. Kühnemann’s process involves working in layers, effacing and removing certain figures while isolating and highlighting others. He refers mainly to the idea of space as a metaphor, which relates to examining the figure within space and without space.

Olaf Kühnemann (b. 1972, Switzerland) completed a MFA at Parsons School of Design, New York (1994). The artist has acquired various awards including the Isracard Award, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2008). Notable exhibitions include, Between Here, Galerie Franzkowiak, Berlin (2015);  Heartworn Highways, Circle 1, Berlin (2014); Turpentine Dreams, Feinberg Project, Tel-Aviv, Israel (2014) and Disposition, Upstairs Gallery, Oldenburg, Germany (2014). 

Jonathan Lux is interested in the relationship between spontaneous processes and its opposite, the hard-won image. His work often begins as reorganizations of memories of his environment, but regularly change radically during the progress. Lux’s subject matter includes references to popular culture, nostalgia and play, combining real and fictional elements, subduing the edginess of the real to the influence of his personal prerogatives and idiosyncrasies. Thematically his work occupies a territory somewhere between pleasure and mischief.

Jonathan Lux (B. 1976 Bluefield, West Virginia, USA) received his MA in Fine Painting from the Royal College of Art (2014) and has since been awarded the prestigious Valerie Beston Artist’ Trust Prize (2014). Notabl;e exhibitions include,  Saatchi New Sensations, London (2014);  A Smile from Across the Room, Marlborough Fine Art, London (2015), Less like a  Cauldron & More Like a Tea Cup, Pasmore Gallery, Middlesex (2015) and Fear and Play, University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor, ME (2011). Jonathan Lux currently lives and works in London. 

Martine Poppe’s paintings mask the violent imagery through combination of photography and paint. Her composition of paintings, derived from photography, examine the relationship and subsequent distance between an original subject and the finished work. The complexity of layering takes on an almost 3-D sculptural form, through meticulously layered brushstrokes, the image becomes less recognisable, remaining a series of representational paintings of the same photograph. Poppe both reveals and conceals disconnecting the finished piece from original source, known as ‘orthographic satiation’ preservation of meaning.

Martine Poppe (b.1988, Oslo, Norway) obtained an MFA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2013). Notable exhibitions include, 50% Grå, Trafo Kunsthall, Asker, Norway (2015), Anatidaephobia, Kristin Hjellegjerde (2015) and S|2 x SF, S|2, Sothebys, San Francisco (2015)  Poppe is featured in private collections consisting of Saatchi Collection. Poppe currently lives and works in London.

Struan Teague is an abstract painter and printmaker interested in how visual expression performs within a separate arena to written or spoken language. Working across both large and small scale canvases, screenprint editions, and artist books, Teague creates a visual language of forms through a balance of compositional structure and intuitive touch. The resulting works quietly comment upon the modes and systems utilized by working artists and how those methods are thereby relayed to the viewer. Teague’s use of instantaneous processes and materials – screenprint, spray paint, even dirt and spillage – force quicker and more irrevocable decisions to be made, resulting in intuition taking a crucial role in the image making process. Similarly, cropping, editing, and combining becomes a tantamount action within his practice. While such a manner of image-making involves an element of risk and uncertainty, Teague finds this element of his process the most intuitive, telling, and frequently the most exciting.

Struan Teague (b. 1991, Edinburgh, Scotland) received his Bachelor of Fine arts from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. And has recently been selected as part of the 2016 RSA New Contemporaries. Teague has been the recipient of the James Guthrie Orchar Memorial Prize and has also participated in group shows including Edition Two, Dundee Print Collective (2015) and Draw In, St. Margaret’s House, Edinburgh (2014). Teage currently lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Kristian Touborg’s artistic practice is one focused almost entirely on sculpture and painting, specifically on unexpected perspectives, forms and situations. Continuing from his ‘Strange Abstraction’ series Touborg revisits his childhood memories of witnessing mesmerizing water surfaces and their hypnotic patterns and organic reflections. These works border between realism and abstraction with attention on line, form and material. The resulting pieces become ambiguous between abstract work and figuration simply by depicting surface water. Through this process the work morphs into something vaguely unrecognizable by creating an experience suspended somewhere between the subject (viewer) and object (painting).

Kristian Touborg (b. 1987, Denmark) is currently undertaking an MA in Fine art at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2009-2016). Notable exhibitions include A Deep Hum, Galleri Benoni, Copenhagen (2015); Strange Attraction, Galleri Jacob Bjorn, Aarhus (2015) and Bell Jar Tourism, Gallerie Mikael Anderson, Copenhagen (2014). Toubourg has also released several self publications including A Deep Hum (2015) and Bell Jar Tourism (2014). The artist lives and works in Copenhagen.


Gijs van Lith’s work revolves around the process of painting. His focus lies on painting and its fundaments, but his body of work also entails sculptures and installations. His work explores the status of the ‘set’ positions  by shuffling the ‘front’ and ‘back’ of the painting and the process. Van Lith’s is interest in colour, depth, light, materiality, process, and surface are recurring themes within his practice. In his most recent work Van Lith explores the space between construction and deconstruction. The paintings are created in a continuous state of revision: he continually adds and removes layers of paint that leaves certain surfaces heavy with paint while others remain quite thin. This process is an excavation of ideas, which speaks to his interest in incorporating both new and old ideas into his work simultaneously.

Gijs Van Lith (b. 1984, The Netherlands) has a Master of fine art, at the St. Joost, ’s-Hertogenbosch, NL. (2013) Notable solo exhibitions include Hardly Anything Sticks Anymore, Galerie Majke Husstege, ‘s-Hertogenbosch (2015); Like My First Love I Can’t Get You Outta My Head, RH Contemporary Art, New York (2015) and Engine room / Wiggle room Punt WG, Art space, Amsterdam, (2014) His work is part of several collections including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Achmea Kunstcollectie and CBK zuid oost (Amsterdam).

Mikey Cook |  Byzantia Harlow  |  Colleen Heslin  |  Christoffer Joergensen  |  Olaf Kuhnemann  Jonathan Lux  |  Martine Poppe  |  Struan Teague  |  Kristian Touborg  |  Gijs Van Lith 

Contemporary Visions VI  Exhibition Dates: 19 February – 19 March 2016