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Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition review

By Emily Poole

Marking the 70th Anniversary of its existence, this year Bloomberg New Contemporaries comes to Leeds for the first time to showcase the wealth of creative talent graduating from art schools across the country in 2019. The exhibition sets the national standard for both undergraduate and postgraduate artists, including graduates from prestigious institutions such as the Royal College, The Slade and Glasgow School of Art, as well as other international art colleges. The exhibition presents a great deal of exposure for those chosen to contend and for recent graduates, it is their gateway into the plethora of opportunity awaiting them as an independent artist.

So many skilled practitioners in this exhibition make it difficult to survey in one short review. However, my highlights of the show include a painter, filmmaker and sculptor in turn:

Take a walk along the first left into the gallery and you will find the encapsulating work of Xiching Tsay; her hallucinogenic amalgamation of colour seems to both excite and terrify upon a first glance. Tsay studied Painting at the Royal College of Art and you can see her talents through her attention to the tone and shade in the distorted dream-like narratives she creates. They are so precisely executed, allowing each feature to come alive. Mulling over the picture a little longer and the gothic underlays unveil, making its fairy-tale horror both scarily intrusive and stunning at the same time.

A short distance down the space and tucked away in the left-hand corner is Annie Mackinnon’s satirical short film entitled Compost Daddy. The subject of the video, presumably the artist’s father, begins by making a rather frank account of this view on the fashion industry and then proceeds to tell us, ironically, that he is in fact lying in ‘a pile of sh**’. Mackinnon’s brutal honesty and literal interpretation of his remarks, makes her work so easily enjoyable that I watched the five minute clip on loop several times, before reluctantly dragging myself away.

Towards the far left corner of the exhibition, Emily Stollery presents an array of both ceramic and heated tulip wood sculptures that challenge the relationship between positive and negative space in the gallery. At each angle, the abstracted forms shift into new perspectives for the viewer, appearing like that of human limbs as they rest precariously against the gallery walls. The title of the piece Stand, Lean - Others Don’t (They Don’t Do That) alludes to this biomorphic nature of her work, transforming rigid materials such as wood to create something beautifully fluid and organic. Their static dynamism is what makes Stollery’s work, personally, a highlight of the exhibition.

The Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition will show in Leeds until 17th November 2019. After its showing in Leeds, it will travel down to South London Gallery in early December.

Leeds Art Gallery: 14th September – 17th November 2019

South London Gallery: 6th December 2019 – 23rd February 2020

Instagram and website pages for the artists and New Contemporaries: