The Griffin Gallery presents the 2015 edition of the annual exhibition ‘Young Gods’, in collaboration with CHARLIE SMITH London. The show is taking place simultaneously across two locations in the west and east of London. Selected and curated by Zavier Ellis, director of Shoreditch gallery CHARLIE SMITH London and co-founder of THE FUTURE CAN WAIT, the exhibition will be a multi-disciplinary presentation of London’s most exciting graduates from the summer of 2014.
Zavier Ellis is a young artist/curator who runs the highly regarded CHARLIE SMITH London, a gallery that identifies some of London’s best new talent. Ellis has again curated ‘Young Gods’ at Griffin Gallery and CHARLIE SMITH London for the third year running. The artist/curator’s annual selection of graduates from London art schools is recognised as a barometer of the best new London artists. The exhibition has a proven track record for discovering vital new artists and introducing them to the international market. Previous selections have gone on to considerable success with galleries, museums, and collectors, including three artists from the 2013 selection being placed in the Saatchi Gallery collection.
This years exhibition has a varied mix of painting, sculpture, installation and video by seven artists from China, Italy, Netherlands, Norway & United Kingdom, illustrating the international nature of today’s London art schools. The Young Gods exhibition features the best of London Graduates from 2014 according to the astute eye of Zavier Ellis. The same artists are exhibiting at both locations enabling a different curatorial perspective at each gallery dictated by the space.
The Griffin Gallery’s array of fresh talent makes for an energetic exhibition, and begins with a video work from Slade School of Fine Art graduate Hilde Krohn Huse; the artist presents the video work ‘Hanging In The Woods’ 2014, a work that asserts a subverted narrative incorporating elements of performance and figuration – a naked woman appears tied and suspended from a tree; her movements a disturbing hybrid between attempted escape and modern dance. The perspective of the viewer is never set regarding the artist’s narrative structure; communication is alluded to via ‘fugitive elements’ in the story. Calls and exertions of the figure suggest a narrative, but remains entirely subjective. A subjectivity present in the artist’s ‘Standing Narratives’ 2014 – allowing, or demanding that the viewer is part of the subjective narrative of the piece.
Royal College of Art graduate Gabriele Dini’s sculpture ‘Swarm’s Scale’ 2014, is at first glance an abstract sculptural form, but its detail replicates the intricacies of the honeycomb of a bee hive, rendered in wax by the artist. The object balances perfectly between sculpture and found object. Dini’s work is interested in ‘swarm intelligence’ and juxtaposes it with the multiples of the digital age – this is nature re-fabricated, the beauty of a natural system reflected by technological evolution, patterns and structures, instinctive mass movements, migrations, all informing the contrived structures in contemporary technology, at once reflexive of each other.
Upon entering the main space of the gallery, the viewer is met with a familiar smell; as if entering an old-fashioned confectioners, a definite aroma of mint pervades. This would be the work of Royal College of Art graduate Russell Hill; a wall of toothpaste applied with great painterly daubs. Domestic substance meets Abstract Expressionism, as if Pollock was armed with a tube of Colgate. But considering the conceptuality of substances in the history of art, the shaman is not present in this work by the RCA artist; there is no Beuysian mystery to Hill’s works, the artist is sardonic in his approach to the conceptuality of materials.
Chelsea College of Art and Design graduate Tezz Kamoen creates monumental works on paper using varying mediums, including ink, crayon, marker pen, and pencil. Here the artist presents the work ‘Replacement Fish Casper Greg 5’ 2014 which is large work on paper, dizzying in its detail; incorporating figurative art, faces, motifs, slogans, and texts, in an aesthetic resembling kaleidoscopic neon. Kamoen’s work is highly reminiscent of 1980’s Neo-expressionism. Kamoen is like Jörg Immendorff on a bad trip.
Joshua Raffell – also a graduate of Chelsea College of Art and Design – presents the viewer with his mixed media figurative sculptures; playful yet a little provocative – these works are great kinetic grotesques, demanding an interplay with the viewer, as one cranks a handle and something untoward occurs. The social expression of puppetry in the history of culture comes to the gallery with colourful fabrics and stuffed red nipples alluding to taboo and repressed sexualities.
Newton Whitelaw – another RCA graduate – creates mixed media assemblages that juxtapose organic materials with man-made objects forming mythological and ritualistic signifiers. The artist disrupts the tribal aesthetic of the work with artificial elements – the seemingly nostalgic narrative of the work is interrupted, the viewers presuppositions are disrupted by materials operating as catalysts amongst the organic anthropological forms; attempting to manipulate the viewers reading of the work.
And finally the Royal College of Art graduate Zhu Tian brings the viewer sheep skins, and with them reflects power strategies asserting the individuals identity over corporate and misogynistic manipulations – but the artist’s sheep skins are not the warming variety, instead they are the skins of the subservient and unthinking masses. Tian’s work ‘Dear Boss’ 2014 plays with the notion of the individual subsumed by empty corporate identities, a concept expressed by the artist through a layered and multifaceted installation certainly not lacking in a knowing humour.
Artlyst will conclude its review with part two of the exhibition, which is taking place at CHARLIE SMITH, London, on January 14, and is again curated by Zavier Ellis.
Read part 2 of the Young Gods review at CHARLIE SMITH, London here
Words: Paul Black Photo: courtesy of Zhu Tian © Artlyst 2015 all rights reserved
Young Gods London Graduates 2014 – Griffin Gallery & CHARLIE SMITH LONDON
Exhibition Dates Thursday January 8th – Friday February 6th 2015 The Studio Building, 21 Evesham Street, London W11 4AJ
CHARLIE SMITH LONDON Wednesday January 14th – Saturday February 14th 2015 336 Old St, 2nd Floor, London EC1V 9DR