July 2008, Anticipation, curated by Kay Saatchi and Catriona Warren
Nick Hornby, Untitled, 2008
The art-market is still going strong, and collectors, critics, curators and attentive art lovers hover eagerly outside art school doors to grab promising sprouts who they hope to nurture into full-fledged art stars. And for the second installment of "Anticipation," now in Selfridges's Ultralounge gallery, seasoned talent-scouts Kay Saatchi and Catriona Warren have cherry-picked nearly two dozen new graduate and undergraduate art students from their years of studio visits and trips through England's premiere art schools.
Though Kay Saatchi's talents as a collector have sometimes been overshadowed by her ex-husband's fame, her insight and input was a critical factor in crafting his collecting tastes, and by extension shaping the history of contemporary English art. As a former editor of ArtReview, Catriona Warren led England's longest-running art magazine for twenty years, during which she helped to cultivate the careers of top UK artists and devoted special magazine sections to championing student art.
James Wright, Dead Nature, 2008, oil on canvas
Though the show's artists come from art institution cloisters, their work is far from limited to art insider issues. Instead, most of them urgently and intensely address painful political or temporal realities. Among the privileged protégés is Slade student Rita Soromenho Simoes, who presents scanned images of wild-flowers she plucks on wilderness walks through London's urban wastelands. An even grander token to fleeting beauty comes in the form of 'Monument,' Jodie Carey's 10-foot-tall tiered wedding cake consisting of hand-crafted sugar flowers and 2,000 individually cast hard-sugar human bones. The cake took the Royal College of Art artist, who already has work in Charles Saatchi's collection, nine months to create. In the Anticipation press release, she describes message the deceptively sweet sculpture is intended to convey as, "The sheer number of bones represent the killing fields of war-torn countries.When juxtaposed with the language of cake decorating, which is so symbolic of Middle England and its obsession with keeping up appearances, the monument speaks out against the sickness of taking violence and evil in stride."
Jodie Carey, Untitled Momument, 2008, mixed media
Included along with the younger set is Svein Moxvold, a 60 year-old mature student originally from Norway studying at the Royal College of Art. Moxvold's 18-foot-tall "All Black Union Jack", is a statement of outrage and passionate protest against the Iraq war that is largely absent from younger artists' work outside the show. Though Moxvold is no longer green, he is perhaps less jaded than many of his peers in art school, even though politics and protest are a central theme in "Anticipation."
Rita Soromenho, First Walk
Echoing Moxvold is thirty-six year old Jeni Snell, who is enrolled in an MFA course at Central Saint Martins. She has installed a steel grey bouncy castle, shaped like a bunker, in the gallery. The bouncy bunker was inspired by tragic news images of children playing among rubble devastated by fighting in Iraq, and acts as a disheartening symbol of the lack of stability, structure or foundation for this unending and immaturely planned war. The exhausting bounce experienced inside the Snell's sculpture is also a sad demonstration of the queasiness and turbulence the war in Iraq is causing internationally.
Giles Ripley, My Girl
Technology and its consequences are the subject of twenty-eight-year-old Nick Hornby's work. A graduate of the Slade, University College London and Chelsea College of Art, Hornby showed a life-size slice of a 727 jet. In an article on the show for London's Evening Standard newspaper, Hornby stated that "The main concern I've got is how this room is going to compare with a Prada dress outside. It's a surreal comparison."
Untitled by Sarah Lederman
The art-fashion intersection or fault line might be troubling for some, but most professional artists now make peace with the market's power to confer success and determine critical attention. Sensitive to these pressures, Selfridges, Saatchi and Warren have made explicit efforts to focus this showcase on sales as well as visiability. The first round of "Anticipation" which the two co-curated at the OneOneOne Gallery generated over £100,000. And unlike the 50/50 split customary between artists and dealers, 100% of the proceeds from sales generated by the show go straight to the artists. Considering that Selfridges' summer sales and "Anticipation" both started on the 26th, the UltraLounge show is an opportunity for viewers find more than just bargains on last season's fashions, but also to take home some gorgeous art futures.
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief