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Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson

We've mentioned Katie Paterson elsewhere as an emerging artist to watch, and others seem to agree - she was recently listed 25th in a top 100 survey of new talent compiled by various art world insiders.

Paterson harnesses technology to enable poetic exploration of far-flung, little-known territories that even include outer space.

Her degree show, for example, connected a telephone line to a microphone immersed in a lagoon of melting Icelandic glaciers, enabling callers to listen in to the sound of vast swathes of disintegrating ice.

For a related work, Langjõkull, Snœfellsjõkull, Solheimajõkull, the sounds of dying glaciers were recorded, then mastered onto frozen (and playable) records created with the glaciers' own collected meltwater (below).

Katie Paterson, new art from the UK
images © Katie Paterson

Sound is again fundamental to Paterson's most ambitious project, E.M.E Transmitter/Receiver, Disklavier Grand Piano (2007).

Radio signals are used to create a transcript of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata which is then beamed to the moon.

Irregularities on the lunar surface absorb some of these signals, subtly redefining the structure of the transmission which is reflected back to earth as a digital score performed in the exhibition space by a Disklavier grand piano - a mechanised form of the instrument that uses data to play notes without any human operator.

Thus the Moonlight Sonata becomes something entirely new: a largely recognisable piece but with alterations and lacunae created by the moon's own, craggy surface.

Beethoven, we think, would probably have approved.


Tris Vonna-Michell

Tris Vonna-Michell

Essex-born Tris Vonna-Michell is increasingly seen as one of today's most exciting artists, consistently topping curators' lists of newly emerging talent.

His performances epitomise the growing neo-narrational concerns of much recent art, with an emphasis on sinuous story-telling, 'lecture' and spoken word: contemporary fabula delivered at break-neck speed, though often trimmed to audience requirements with the aid of an egg-timer.

Vonna-Michell recounts his stories within simple installations that employ projections, texts and objects as both stimuli and theatrical props.

Quasi-autobiographical tropes are often used as a catalyst through which to create complex compounds of fiction and reality, an amalgam of premeditation and off-the-cuff spontaneity that results in temporal structures akin to ephemeral, consistently evolving sculpture.

Tris Vonna-Michell - new art from the UK

Shaun McDowell

Shaun McDowell - British contemporary art now

It's early days yet for this young Londoner who, of all the artists featured here, is by far the least well known.

Nevertheless, the cut-above quality of his ebullient yet beautifully balanced abstractions make us think he's well worth watching.

Although his work is often influenced by direct observation of nature or a model, McDowell's compositions in paint or oilstick seem more like records of sensation, brusquely energetic though always underpinned by surprisingly delicate compositional tension and the terse decision-making processes of an accomplished colourist.

Shaun McDowell
images © Shaun McDowell

Alexander Hoda

Alexander Hoda

In Alexander Hoda's deformed, biomorphic sculpture, creatures ranging from the nightmarish to the recognisable - pigs, bears, dogs, walruses - are forcibly conjoined, their embrace at once transgressively sexual and disturbingly frankenstinian.

Slathered in latex, resin or rubber, his tableaux appear to have been hauled, dripping, from some primordial stew.

Yet although Hoda certainly sees his work as challenging, his aim is to investigate, even question, the concept and mechanics of repulsion - human reaction to deformity, accident and violence, "the imagery of the car crash... (and) grim fascination for tragedy".

Alexander Hoda, britart now
images © Alexander Hoda

J.G. Ballard may have been first to make the point, but for Hoda, too, the motorway pile-up is representative of a kind of macabre beauty.

This curious tension between repulsion and attraction is, he argues, far more common than we might assume. Although we profess to find new-borns beautiful, for example, "there is still something basically horrific about them."

Essentially, then, Hoda's quest is to reveal the beauty that resides in horror (and, occasionally, vice versa) and, rather miraculously, he succeeds.

However disquieting Alexander Hoda's work may seem, it's also sensual, mesmerising stuff that depends to a surprising degree on the rhythmic aesthetics of the classical canon. And, yes - it's probably as close to beauty as carnage can get.


Sarah Dwyer

Sarah Dwyer

A 2004 graduate of The Royal College of Art, Irish artist Sarah Dwyer's paintings are an imaginative cumulation of fragments - memories of images clipped from newspapers or magazines; painting techniques ranging from thin glazes to rapid, coarse brushstrokes; and, finally, a nod to historical masters and genres.

Dwyer's luxuriant swathes of compositional light and shade are, for example, reminiscent of Goya, while her more intricate arrangements of billowing form revel in the dappled, lucent glazes equally beloved by Pre-Raphaelites such as Holman Hunt and Millais.

Like many recent abstract artists, Dwyer's sumptuous works inhabit a space arrived at via the processing of multiple figurative referents, a rich blend of intuition, invention and control.

Sarah Dwyer, new UK painting
images © Sarah Dwyer

Simon Fujiwara

Simon Fujiwara, new art and artists from the UK

Simon Fujiwara is a neo-narrational artist whose work includes installation, performance-lectures and even published fiction.

Initially trained as an architect, Fujiwara went on to study fine art in Frankfurt (he now divides his time between London and Berlin).

Much of his work retains architectonic elements along with powerfully erotic, psycho-sexual themes. The Museum of Incest for example, is a performance work that begins with a Powerpoint 'tour' through a fictional building and culminates in "a wildly personal portrait of a father-son relationship".

The erotic anecdotes that form the ongoing Hotel Munber project, are set, biographically, in a Catalan hotel owned by the artist's parents during the final years of the Franco dictatorship. The repressive regime provides a stark foil to the principal character's homosexuality, which is sublimated through the acquisition of objects that symbolically represent the men he desires. Eventually, the entire architecture of the hotel building becomes erotically charged with these totems.

Simon Fujiwara
images © Simon Fujiwara

Fujiwara's heady and sharply intelligent medley of fiction, biography and sheer fantasy looks set to place him firmly among the ranks of today's fast-emerging art auteurs.


New British art > continued

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