Artists to Watch

Calling upon innovative practices, get inspired by the winners from the past five years of the Aesthetica Art Prize. From bold techniques to new technologies, these practitioners push the boundary of concept and form.

2018: David Birkin

David Birkin’s work reflects on the way war is depicted. At its core is a concern for censorship and the edges of visibility, often focusing on omissions and redactions. Profiles addresses the relationship between spectacle and loss, specifically, the representation of civilian casualties from the Iraq War and the paucity of such images.

2017: Adam Basanta 

Everyday electronic objects of commercial technology and communications assume new roles in the installations of Adam Basanta, taking on sculptural forms. In Curtain (white) the ubiquitous white earbud headphone’s connotations of a retreat from the outside into a private ‘bubble’ are expanded upon, as a three metre-long array of them generate white noise patterns.

2016: Rachel Ara

This Much I’m Worth is a self-evaluating artwork that continually displays its own sale value. The work sources its value from the internet, assisted by complex data mining algorithms called “the endorsers.” It seeks to question the values we place on objects and people, and who has the right to apportion these values.

2015: John Keane

Keane’s paintings draw on images from the great Stalinist terror of the 1930s. They are sourced from mug shots of arrested victims (some well-known, some anonymous) at a time when no-one, from the top of the Bolshevik hierarchy to the humblest worker, was safe from accusation of sabotage, betrayal or political deviation.

2014: Sybille Neumeyer

Aiming to investigate the relationship between humans and nature, Song for the Last Queen refers to the endangerment of bees. As a species that plays a vital role in maintaining the earth’s ecosystem, Neumeyer addresses the phenomena found in science, culture and the natural world.

Entries for the Aesthetica Art Prize are currently open. Categories include: Photographic & Digital Art; Three-Dimensional Design & Sculpture; Painting, Drawing & Mixed Media; and Video Installation & Performance. There are two awards for entry: the Main Art Prize and the Emerging Art Prize. Prizes include £5,000, group exhibition and publication in an inspiring anthology. Click here to find out more.

1. David Birkin, Profiles, 2018. 8 inch x 10 inch photographic transparencies on hospital X-ray light boxes.
2. Adam Basanta, Curtain (white), 2016. Sound installation. 240 pairs white earbuds, acrylic, electronics, 24 channel sound. 300cm x 20cm x 200cm.
3. Rachel Ara, This Much I’m Worth, 2014 – 2016. 60cm x 60cm x 23cm.
4. John Keane, Fear No. 25171541, 2013. Oil on linen, 200cm x 150cm. © John Keane. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York
5. Sybille Neumeyer, Song for the Last Queen.