Tuesday, 1 August 2017

BALTIC Artists’ Award 2017

One of the current exhibitions at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead is the BALTIC Artists’ Award 2017: an exhibition featuring work by Jose Dávila, Eric N. Mack, Toni Schmale and Shen Xin.

The four recipients of the award each received £25,000 to create new work and a £5,000 artist fee. This major new international award is the first worldwide art award to be judged solely by artists.

Four of the most celebrated international contemporary artists - Monica Bonvicini, Mike Nelson, Pedro Cabrita Reis, and Lorna Simpson - selected an emerging artist whose work they strongly believe in. The four winning artists work across a diverse range of media. The exhibition will provide a vital opportunity for those selected to have their work seen by tens of thousands of visitors, to work with BALTIC’s curators and be supported by a high-profile artist.

Public visitors to this seminal exhibition of new works are able to vote for the artists’ presentation they have the greatest connection to. This will inform an additional legacy commission project enabling a deeper engagement between one of the artists and local communities in Gateshead to be announced in autumn 2018.

I was drawn to the work by Jose Dávila, (b. 1974, lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico), the artist selected by Pedro Cabrita Reis.

"Influenced by Minimalism, American Conceptual Art, and Brazil’s Neo-concrete movement, Dávila’s artistic practice questions the inherent qualities of modern architecture and art throughout history. His sculptural work is based on the arrangement and overlapping of common construction materials such as boulders, glass, steel, concrete and marble, kept in perfect balance addressing the never-ending struggle against the force of gravity."

I enjoyed the unusual and playful combination of materials and the lightness of touch to this installation. The simplicity added to its power. I had a physical reaction to the work, and enjoyed walking around it to experience different angles and see it in new ways. The sculpture is seamlessly constructed, which is essential for a work so minimal. The balloon adds a refreshing splash of colour and is in contrast to the industrial metal girders and heavy natural rock.

It was only when I saw the video about the work of Eric N. Mack that I realised that the clothing that was hung on the wall could be experienced in a different way. Every day, a performer wears the clothing for a few hours and walks around the gallery space. I was disappointed that I did not see this is person as from the video, the clothing comes to life when it is worn. The fabric becomes part of the installation and an interesting dynamic is formed between it and the structures.


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