Aesthetica Art Prize Shortlist

The fifth Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition opens 26 May and continues until 10 September at York Art Gallery. It is a platform for innovation and originality, showcasing the work of 16 shortlisted artists from locations across the world. From individual narratives to universal concerns, the artworks comment on contemporary culture and explore themes such as globalisation, perceptions of space and alienation in the digital age.

The shortlist includes Adam Basanta who will be exhibiting Curtain (white). Basanta uses readymade commercial technologies and communication devices, arranging these objects in ways which disrupt their economic functions and testing their potential as instruments of personal or mass communication. In Curtain (white), Basanta’s consider the ubiquitous white earbud headphone, an everyday device that creates an interior environment in which one can retreat from the external world. Within this personalised bubble, the headphones function as a visual “do not disturb” sign. The work plays on this notion by producing a three-metre-long “curtain” which sections the gallery space, both visually and sonically.

In photography, Judith Jones presents Rendezvous from her Twilight series. In this collection Jones examines the dialect between the outside and inside, commenting on the contrasts of private and public spaces. The “blue hour” of twilight takes us through the transition between day and night, maintaining an uncanny sense of unease. Documenting this fragile time frame presents a magical, filmic space that at once intrigues and fascinates, yet also evokes a lingering sense of fear.

Shadowplay by breadedEscalope is an interactive light installation, and the result of the artists’ experimentations with a certain type of void. By interacting with the state of darkness or “nothingness”, the artists discovered that the qualities of shadow are an actual material that can be manipulated and utilised, shifting into an emotionally affective clock. The viewer becomes the most essential component; when they touch the wall in the ring’s centre, the clock dims all the lights. Two spots appear that illuminate the index finger and cast two shadows that resemble the hands of a clock.

The exhibition also features Stephen Johnston’s painting Limes in Jar. The artist’s recent ventures have focused on reinterpreting still life: food slowly decaying in glass jars, burnt bottles, deconstructed cakes in jars, a bowl full of roadkill. These vivid images deal with the subject of mortality and reveal how Johnston sees all still life as a comment on death.

Other shortlisted artists are: Adam Niklewicz, Alinka Echeverría, Dylan Martinez, Emmanuelle Moureaux, Jasmina Cibic, Julio Bittencourt, Lesley Hilling, Maryam Tafakory, Sara Morawetz, Stanza, Toby Dye and Webb-Ellis. Utilising a range of media, they work within the categories of Photographic & Digital Art; Painting, Drawing & Mixed Media; Three Dimensional Design & Sculpture. and Video, Installation & Performance.

Some of the shortlisted artists will be delivering a talk at York Art Gallery from 12:30 on 26 May, providing an opportunity to hear directly from leading practitioners working across the globe. There will also be a chance to connect with the shortlist and longlist at the special event Meet the Artists, part of the Future Now Symposium taking place 25-26 May at York St John University. Early booking is recommended.

Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, 26 May – 10 September, York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EW. For opening times and admission details, visit

For more information on the Aesthetica Art Prize Shortlist, visit

To book tickets for the Symposium, visit

1. Judith Jones, Rendezvous.