Monthly Selection of Emerging Artists - August 2014

This month we’re excited to launch our Featured Artists section, where our chief curator Rona Kopeczky has chosen 9 promising artists from around the world to write about their work.

The new Featured Artists Section is published monthly and gives people the opportunity to get deeper insights into emerging contemporary art presented on the platform. Stay tuned and check our website for these monthly professional reviews.

Born in 1977 in Hungary, Eszter Kinga Deli completed a Master degree of fine arts in painting in 2001 at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. Although her main medium of expression remains painting, she often turns to photography, video or even collage, as her featured series entitled Landing shows it. In her artistic practice, Eszter focuses on the representations of time and is interested in the concept of vulnerability as she considers it to be a necessary state for openness and therefore creation.

The starting point of the series Landing (2013-2014) is a found picture, the reproduction of an etching entitled The Age of Nero, originating from a world history book. The artist’s first intention was to cut out some of the figures in order to create new micro stories, but she gradually used all the elements cut out from the original picture in different compositions. The title of the series, Landing, is directly referring to the content of the original image itself, but is also strongly connoted and automatically questions our associative reflexes; What is the link between the WWII historical event and this work? Or is there any connection at all? Through this playful question resembling a riddle, Eszter multiplies the layers of interpretation, explores and subtly sheds light on how the process, the mechanisms of constructing stories and are fed by collective emotions and unconscious archetypes. In other words, beyond the simply formal and physical transformation or metamorphosis of a picture resulting from the attribution of new borders and therefore a new context to it, the artist destabilizes our formatted reflexes and associative automatisms and draws in our minds a psychological and cultural imaginary map of storytelling.

The young artist Thaisa Figueiredo was born in 1988 in Brazil. In 2012, she earned a Master degree in conceptual and artistic photography at the Escuela de Fotografía y Centro de Imagen in Madrid. In her conceptual artistic practice, she presently uses found photographs originating from her family’s archives. She treats these photographs as raw material on which she intervenes, by adding an element to them or subtracting, erasing, destroying a part of the pictures, thus approaching the questions of individual memories and human relations.

In her series entitled lapsos (2012), Thaisa used photographs owned by her grandmother and dating from the 1970′s. The photos usually depict Thaisa’s mother as a child with the grandparents during family travels, travels about which the artist heard many stories told by different members of her family, each of them remembering different details. As a logical consequence of this, the artist began to appropriate these memories through an emotive and psychological anachronism, since she was not born when the photos were taken. At that time, photo labs in Brazil used to make three copies of each photograph, two of which could be used as postcards to be sent to relatives or friends. Taking advantage of the multiple copies, Thaisa Figueiredo intervened in a different way on each of the three copies. She used bleach and acetone to alter the surface of the photos, which gives the impression that fire melted them. The precise size and location of the chemical reaction being unpredictable, she created three different versions of the same scene, as if each of them was one personal memory, remembering, forgetting and fading away in a different way. Her series is a poetic and sensitive approach of the individual character of memory, forgetfulness, appropriated remembrances and nostalgia, their fragility, relativity and elusiveness.

Clémence Grieco was born in 1982 in Montreal, studied in Canada and France. She holds a Bachelor degree in visual and mediatique arts from the Université du Québec in Montreal, and currently lives and works in Berlin. As a sculptor, she is interested in the physical and formal properties, characteristics and possibilities of mainly poor industrial materials such as plaster, cement, polyurethane foam or fabric. Considering their colour, consistence, weight, flexibility as a kind of visual language and semantic repertoire, she combines, processes, moulds, constructs and articulates raw materials as if they were words waiting to be used in a sentence. Resulting from the close observation and the respect of the inherent properties and essence, the physical qualities and potentials of the materials, Clémence Grieco limits her interventions to a minimal vocabulary of action: folding, stretching, crashing or hanging. The contemplation of physical reality and the appreciation of textures, forms and volumes in space are the keys to approach her sensual and sensitive wok.

The piece entitled Smooth Movement (2011) is one example of what we could call playful and dynamic jewellery of raw materials. Clémence Grieco manages to transcend a rectangular piece of polyurethane foam simply through basic manipulations such as cutting, curving and painting. The passive material is raised to the level of an object which has an affirmed presence, tension and resonation in space, which addresses gravity through its dynamic curves highlighted by red paint, and which from the moment its inherent beauty is revealed, relates to the viewer. The artist explores and recreates an abstract landscape, a poiesis of the full and empty, movement and space, vertical and horizontal, volumes and planes. This results in the activation of the relation between the object and the viewer, whose formal memory and visual intuition are directly addressed by Clémence Grieco’s haikus for the eyes about our own existence in the here and now.

Andrea Junekova was born in 1984 in Slovakia. In 2010, she completed a Master degree in photography and new media at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Besides photography, she also experiments with video, as the work featured in this selection illustrates it. The young photographer is often playing on the psychological string, creating scenes and atmospheres in which absurdity, uncertainty, sinister uneasiness and humour are subtly intertwined.

The video Somebody’s watchin (2014) is about an atmosphere, not about a story. We see two distant points of light in a landscape and it is slowly getting darker and darker, until nothing remains visible but these two never blinking “eyes”. Beyond its emphasized meditative and contemplative effect, the growing tension of the video is obviously generated by the unstoppable progress of darkness, the ineluctable disappearing of natural light while the two spots of artificial light stubbornly stare at us, in the heavy sound of the night. This very simple but effective scene presents a very large spectrum of possible associations, ranging from numerous filmographic references to the metaphorical evocation of the oppressive tools of control and surveillance in use during the communist regime, as the title of the piece suggests it, or simply to the nightmarish vision of an unidentifiable wild animal staring at us in the darkness. But the choice is up to the viewer and the fact that the tension of the video is somehow countered by the loop gives a humorous twist to it and the possibility for introspection and self-reflexion.

Dejan Kaludjerovic was born in Belgrade in 1972, lives and works in Vienna. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, where he gained a Master degree in visual arts in 2004. Since the beginning of this career, he has been examining social issues like the relation between childhood and consumerism, the mechanisms of identity formation and the stability of representational forms. Using a wide range of media which embraces painting, drawing, object, video and installation, the methodological tools of the artist range from recycling and copying to re-enacting, through which he criticises homogeneity embedded in popular culture.

The piece entitled Marbles (2014), part of the series of four works named Conversations (2014), is an installation composed of 30 777 marbles forming a circle on the floor and loudspeakers, each or them representing one child. The artist interviewed Serbian children between 7 and 10 years old – and therefore did not go through the process of individualisation – from both the capital and the countryside and from various social and economical backgrounds. The questions touched global or local topics, political, social, historical and cultural issues such as exclusion and inclusion, foreigners, language, war, money and poverty. The answers, sometimes amusing and simple, sometimes tragic and complex, are the reflection of the stereotypes in the education system, the preconceived ideas rooted in society, the values shared at home or the conditioned thinking learnt at school. The work is a staggering exclamation mark drawing our attention to the mechanisms of national identity building which are activated at a very early age. As an ongoing project, Dejan Kaludjerovic will realise further versions in different countries such as Azerbaijan, Austria, Romania or Croatia.

Adrian Kiss was born in 1990 in Romania. He earned a Bachelor degree in fine arts at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, where he presently lives and works. His childhood being strongly shaped by the physical remains of Socialism, memories of and nostalgia for materials, textures, forms, colours and patterns of everyday objects of that period, as well as reference to industrial production and socialist realism is a central motive and source of inspiration in his work.

Rózsa and Social Wave (2014) is composed of two individual elements, the first one evoking a private space furniture in its size and – Rózsa –, while the second one is more of a symbol, a very simple but decorative shape that the artist unconsciously associated with his own childhood, but is also somehow suggesting the coded signage of power and social, technical progress cherished by the socialist states – Social Wave. While in Rózsa, the importance of the material used is clearly exceeding the form and the volumes, Social Wave is a game of both shape and material. But despite this difference, both of the pieces act as visual keys for a socially coded nostalgia. The kitschy oilcloth with saturated colours and popular decorative patterns and the laminated wood were of daily use during Socialism and as such, are the keepers and concentrate the essence, the spirit of life under Socialism. The decontextualisation of these familiar materials from their traditional use highlights their inherent connotations and, as the artist himself puts it, creates an image that is almost sarcastic. The truth is that it is not only an image, it is also a smell, the characteristic smell that our brain unconsciously and automatically associate to these materials – oilcloth and laminated wood – and which makes Rózsa and Social Wave reach Proustian dimensions, both in the artist and the viewer.

Inka Seelia Lahteenaro was born in 1990 in Helsinki, where she currently lives and works. She is an autodidact photographer working both with analogue and digital techniques. She is interested in creating surreal atmospheres and anachronistic situations which usually don’t have any connection with reality. These stopped moments are showing unreal stillness, and are “big lies about reality”, as the artist herself emphasizes it.

Step like a pole (2014) is a photo from the series entitled Misty Europe (2013-2014), which was strongly influenced and inspired by the artist’s one month long stay in Krakow in February 2013. The young Finnish photographer, being broken-hearted at that time, was consciously taking photos in which neither the place nor the time could be identified precisely. The mist of Krakow – a mixture between natural mist generated by the river which the artist walked past every day and smog, the Polish city being one of the most polluted places in Europe – became an essential tool in terms of composition to erase all the noises and voices from the scene and to create space for quietness. Behind its inherent beauty, Inka wanted to reveal the poisonous side of that mist, as a self-reflexive process of her own emotional state, but also a critique of her geopolitical status. According to the artist, Finland is a wealthy country and because of their privileged status, Finnish citizens have a very vague – misty – idea of the European realities. Step like a pole is giving a sensitive view of that reality: at first sight, the composition emphasizing verticals seems to echo the strict line of the pole and its shadow in the forefront, but the second layer of interpretation appears gradually, revealing the focus on the Polish lady walking straight and proud at the back, catching the artist’s eye.

Zejing Liu was born in 1988 in Beijing. She moved to the UK in 2008 for her studies and received her Bachelor degree at the Chelsea College of Art and Design – University of the Arts in London in 2013. She is currently a postgraduate student in fine art at the Royal College of Art, London. The young artist shows a deep interest for the relation between individual identity and cultural, political contexts. It is in a conceptual way that she approaches political and economic issues as well as the way she experiences cultural differences. She mainly uses video and performance as means of expression.

The video It’s nothing to be very worried about (2012) depicts the artist herself highlighting in yellow colour a Chinese world map, sometimes with smaller and more precise gestures, sometimes in a more dynamic and passionate way. The action itself is slow and silent, and the process simple and repetitive, as usually in her works. What could be seen at first as an innocent game and childish image of the artist’s fantasies about taking over the world, turns into a discomforting process raising geopolitical and economic questions regarding China’s increasing presence and power in all parts of the globe, its political relation to the Western countries and its economic investment in developing countries. The title itself is a reference to the press articles and media reports of the past few years examining the economic shift from the Western countries to the fast growing markets in the East. It reveals a certain degree of anxiety and fear that is being covered with apparent self-confidence. The sharp contrast between the serious and complex nature of the subject treated and the childlike and unclouded lightness of the performance creates an effectively absurd, uneasy, ironic but also comic situation reflected both in the title and in the fact that the artist colours even the most remote parts of the world map, even Antarctica.

Born in 1981 in Istanbul, Burcu Yagcioglu lives and works in London, where she completed a Master degree in fine art at the Goldsmith University of London in 2010. Through the diverse means of expression she uses – collage, video, sculpture… – she explores the concepts, processes of concealing and revealing. Avoiding the didactical approach and leaving a space for endless possibilities, she aims to foster active intellectual engagement in the viewer for a fertile experiencing and understanding of her works.

In the two pieces forming the work Dart the Paper, Arrow the Pencil (2012), paper played the role of a dart board at which the artist kept throwing pencils as dart arrows. She realised one drawing with her left hand and the other with her right hand. Being left-handed, it appears that she aimed more precisely in the piece created with that hand, while in the right-handed version, the traces left by the pencil are more scattered. Conceptually however, the result remains the same as she failed to hit the centre of the circle, but it is thanks to this failure that the drawings came to life. Despite being based on a very simple idea, using minimalistic tools, and affirming sober aesthetics, this work also poses an existential question. By reducing her process of creation to the mechanic and repetitive gesture which is characteristic of darts game, Burcu relates to the philosophy of decision making, and relates her work to the American philosopher Alphonso Lingis’s thoughts about the so-called decision making process, the will power of human beings and how human actions remain deeply rooted in the animalistic behaviour. In these two drawings, while the artist took almost all the decisions – conceiving the work, drawing the circle, throwing all the pencils herself –, the fact that the basic rules she applies to the process of creation reduces her field of action to only one gesture examines to what extent is the human being his own obstacle to freedom.