Two undergraduate students from the top arts school in London have curated .ISM, a group show featuring the remarkably talented work of 12 fellow Slade students at gallery12 in Hampstead. Nestled in a delightful bright space on South End Road, this small show converses with the concept of commerciality and art, and questions the impossibile position handed to every young artist: is the commercial art space your devil or your friend? .ISM is well worth a visit, especially as most of you reading this have certainly made the Hampstead Heath picnic trek in the past week and will certainly do so again as soon as the sun returns, so no excuses there. Good news for intrepid first-time buyers looking to invest in some up-and-coming artists: the featured work is (mostly) very affordable.
Thomas Yeomans and Candida Powell-Williams, third-year Slade students, are two of the stand-outs of this show. Yeomans specialises in subversion-tactic art, and his painting in this show is an outstanding example. A mock-reproduction of a Peter Doig painting is a triumph of Yeoman’s serious technical and stylistic talent. Whilst the landscape is an accurate (and breathtaking) illustration of Doig’s, the figures from the originals are replaced by photocopies of students rioting in 1968 Paris, an event that this coinciding exhibit questions.
Whereas Parisian rioters in ‘68 were rebelling against a system that didn’t allow for diversity, change, or experimentation, the aim of this show is to explore and celebrate the sundry styles and goals of its artists. Yeomans asks, 'What would the students of ‘68 think of our generation today? Binge-drinking, middle-class, politically disinterested? Art-students exhibiting in a commercial gallery just off Hampstead Heath?? I am sure that ‘68 generation were essentially the same as students today. But perhaps the difference between then and now is that they had something to react against. In the liberal environment of art schools today, it is difficult to define a particular style or agenda which students fit into or rebel against…variation and contradiction are all encouraged'.
Other standouts include strange and wonderfully whimsical mechanical rubber apparatus by Candida Powell-Williams, marvelously promising Mark Davey’s fluorescent-tube installation that has been strategically placed in the window of the gallery, as a shopping centre mock-window display. Several of Katie Miller’s stunning photographs have already been snapped up. They walk a quiet line between dreamscape and serene reality, between play and desire. Ingy Mackay’s miniature series of paintings portray sweet snapshots of a family vacation, her miniature sculptures in medicine jars tinged with pathos.
Clearly, we can’t fawn enough over this show. Get ye to Hampstead before this show ends on June 1st. Gallery12, open Thursday & Friday 2-7, weekends 11-5, and any other time is available by appointment.
By Kira Hesser
Images courtesy of gallery12.