We speak of “post-web”, “the new aesthetic”, we quote theories on capitalism, information, migration, narrations and all of it is true. We speak of trans-genre, open narratives and of course all of that is also true - we try to understand and frame today’s artistic dynamics.
London’s current scene is being revived by a generation of artists born in the 1980s. These artists are particularly engaged with image, its formation, transmission, and mutation: one of those artists, who we saw in Paris not so long ago at the Palais de Tokyo, is Helen Marten (born 1985). This generation of artists precisely engage with medium to re-inform the relationship of the artwork to its medium and the viewer and to the artwork via the medium. The cinema, design (Memphis 1980s), television, fashion, video games, club and gay culture are sources just as reliable as theory, philosophy, art history and discourse.
Amongst these artists gaining attention: Eddie Peake, George Henry Longly, Magali Reus, Nicolas Deshayes, Prem Sahib, Samara Scott, Celia Hempton and Adham Faramawy. A few years ago in London, we saw a literal, yet dry return to Modernism: a formal, somewhat illustrative revival. Since that time, artists have been working more with the amorphous, abject and the fetish (similar to the work of Anthea Hamilton or Enrico David). The materials and industrial processes (plastics, resins, lacquer, aerosol, manufactured objects…) are used without complex alongside traditional materials and processes like marble, acrylic and oil paint… The works are no longer categorised: a party is a performance, a painting is a sculpture, a perfume is an installation, etc. If we want to think of this in terms of a tradition, or speak of inspirations we could mention Eva Hesse, Alina Szapocznikow, Philip Guston, Paul Thek, Isa Genzken – all of that blended with pop or post-modernism, feminism and gay activism.
In concluding «Formless, A User’s guide», Rosalind Krauss with Yve-Alain Bois, borrows Georges Bataille’s notion of displacement. Displacement, in every sense - in the separation of space and time, the system of spatial marking, the relation between sources that inform an artwork etc. Like a deviant system that explores the limits of the object, the feasible and the hybrid. Recently fluids, liquids and deliquescence (as motifs, materials or images) became like a metaphor of a global contamination of aesthetic categories, a hybridisation of materials and sources, or numerous “liquid” exhibition titles. Displacement is an admitted and valid form of denial of categories, taxonomies and the limits between high and low, horizontality and verticality, object and subject, virtual and real, past and present, ignorance and knowledge, activity and passivity, singularity and standardisation.
Adham Faramawy and Celia Hempton belong to this dynamic. They are active agents of this phenomenon. They have been gaining attention recently and are beginning to work internationally - Celia Hempton in particular for her nudes, installed on liquid, abstract wall paintings and Adham Faramawy with his videos and computer screensavers, also liquid. The title they have chosen for their first double exhibition dryly contradicts all my development, in particular on the deliquescence of forms and liquid. It is perhaps a shift, or at least a change of attitude in a group (that does not constitute nor think of itself as a group) that will go on to see individualities further affirm themselves, especially now that these artists finished art school in June 2013 with their degrees, joined galleries and have initiated more ambitious projects.