Here’s a little January treat: someone’s gone and picked the best young art graduates in the country and put their work on display at Camden Art Centre. Which can only mean that New Contemporaries is back to lift some of the winter gloom. New Contemporaries has been putting out open calls for recent graduates and then giving them their first big exhibition since 1948, so they know what they’re up to.
After a few years at the ICA and South London Gallery, New Contemporaries 2024 is now headed north, and this year’s selection is as good as ever. The curation is a little less intelligible than previous years, and the sequential screening of multiple long video works is unwieldy – and a little unfair on the artists – but as a glimpse of the state of art in the UK, it’s pretty unbeatable.
There’s loads of work about identity, climate change, queerness, intimacy and safe spaces. Très 2024, but très interesting too. Here’s our pick of the best of the bunch
Nine artists we loved at Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2024
This video piece shows the artist painting on the floor via the means of markers strapped to their electric wheelchair, all set to a soundtrack of Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’. It’s about inclusivity and diversity, sure, but it’s also sardonic, cynical, and very funny.
Classic 1990s conceptual minimalism is back with this wall installation of PET containers, like Ceal Floyer suffering through a heavy bout of ecological anxiety.
Intricate, ancient-looking little chalk sculptures that are meant to provide care and protection, like fragile modern talismans. They’re lovely, weird, primal things.
Stuttering, striated abstraction, like Gerhard Richter stuck in a malfunctioning printer. This is big, beautiful, ultra-physical painting.
Menk has created a chaotic improvised hackspace, bulging with technological detritus, creaking with the weight of obsoletion and surveillance.
Elena Njoabuzia Onwochei-Garcia
The artist’s curved structure places the viewer inside the drama of their world. There’s anguish, madness, a horse lurching, chairs scattered: but there’s stillness and quiet too.
Like a textile reimagining of early Chris Ofili, Yousefzada’s works tell a neat story of migrant identity, with ceramics that look like goods wrapped for travel, left here as ritual offerings
Mandeng splits the canvas in half to create dual portraits, this one combining an African mask with a German football top, telling a story of conflicting identities and cultural dysphoria. Simple but effective.
Agusto revels in and celebrates Black culture and identity with this beautiful collision of portraiture, printed patterns and a pair of hand carefully braiding hair.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries is at Camden Art Centre, Jan 19-Apr 14. Free. More details here.
Want more? Here are the ten best exhibitions you can see in London right now.
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