Review: Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2010, A Foundation Liverpool

By Kenn Taylor

Bloomberg New Contemporaries is an open-submission showcase for art students and recent graduates, which takes emerging artists and their works out of the educational realm and places them within the framework of the “real” art world. The exhibition has a long-established pedigree, having been in existence in various forms since 1949, and it provides a rare opportunity for early career artists to get their work shown in a professional gallery context.

In 1996 the exhibition premiered in Liverpool, before touring to London and other venues across the country. Part of this year’s Liverpool Biennial, the show is once again airing at A Foundation, consistently one of Liverpool’s most satisfying contemporary art spaces.

Inevitably, with such a variety of work and artists on display, the exhibition feels like a graduate show, albeit a high quality one. This is however, not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s a refreshing exhibition. A Foundation’s huge Coach Shed Gallery is large enough to give generous space to each of the 49 artists featured.

A highlight is Sam Knowles’ series of works, which utilise the aesthetics of space. In Field (2009) star systems are painted over dozens of pages from books: novels, works of anthropology, philosophy and science. Elsewhere A Sectional View of the Endless Immensity (2009) is a complex map laying out an outline of both the mind and the universe. Reflecting on how we attempt to reduce the enormity of existence to technical diagrams and descriptions, it’s a complex, understated and arresting series of works.

Kiwoun Shin’s Dis_illusion_Coin_Faces (2010) features close-ups of various international coins being ground down. It is a particularly memorable piece, because it is simultaneously straightforward and yet uncompromisingly epic. Dis_illusion_Coin_Faces is continuously fascinating to watch, as symbols of power and wealth are repeatedly and relentlessly reduced to dust.

Another stalwart is the time-based work of Greta Alfaro. In Ictu Oculi (2009) unfolds as a static camera documents a flock of vultures descending upon and devouring a lavish banquet laid out on a table in barren countryside. The film is both engrossing and disturbing to watch, as domestic subtly is subjected to brutal animal reality.

Nick Mobb’s large photographs of sofas stuffed in doorways make the ordinary and industrial seem organic and uncanny. Elsewhere, Joe Clark’s mixed media piece Somewhere in West Virginia (2009) requires time in order to understand exactly how the “Mousetrap-like” set-up produces the image on view. Technical quality aside, the vision is atmospheric, but might have benefited from a darker, more isolated location.

Chris Shaw Hughes’ carbon drawings of aerial scenes, from petrochemical plants to housing estates are technical marvels, creating a shift in perception that makes the mundane monumental. At the opposite end of the drawing scale, Naomi Uchida’s Doodles on National Treasure Project (2010) is a surreal and finely drawn amalgam of fiction, fantasy and folklore, with the look of an ancient scroll created by an oddly contemporary hand.

New Contemporaries is a timely survey of upcoming talent, and it is encouraging to see the work of new artists given a decent platform, demonstrating that there are plenty of raw, talented artists to watch out for in the future.

New Contemporaries continues in Liverpool until 13 November and then continues to the ICA in London (26th November 2010 – 16 January 2011)

©Greta Alfaro
In Ictu Oculi (2009)
Medium: Single channel video (HDV, 16:9, colour, sound)
Duration: 10’53”