Monthly Selection of Emerging Artists - September 2014

It's September and we are pleased to present this month's 10 featured artists, carefully selected by our chief curator Rona Kopeczky.

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.

Justyna ADAMCZYK was born in 1981 in Poland. After studying at the Fine Arts Academy in Wroclaw, she completed a Master degree in 2007, and has been exhibiting both in Europe and the USA, while living and working in Warsaw.

Her paintings, always referring in an allusive or literal way to the human body and its different parts, reveal an introspective and self-reflexive approach and act as a kind of mirror of the artist’s daily life and immediate emotive environment and surrounding. Beyond the mere evocation of corporeality, the young painter is willing to tell stories and transfer emotions, turning memories, feelings and situations into a chromatically vivid visual vocabulary. Justyna turns to combined techniques to realise her works, alternating painting and drawing, using brushes, pens as well as pencil crayons.

The painting Untitled (2013) is part of a broader cycle of image which developed into a visual diary, or a body of notes stored in the form of an image – as the artist herself puts it. This particular work, a medium sized piece evoking somehow an ancient emotive calendar, was realised with acrylic paint in a variety of application: large and dynamic brushstrokes building the black human torso, winding thin blue lines infiltrating deeper and deeper into the torso like arteries, veins then capillaries, and red dots tiny as pearls of blood running all along the veins and forming an aura around the torso. But the simple corporeal references and associations are transcended by a discomforting vibration, an oscillation created by the use of colours and the blue lines irreversibly penetrating, invading the chest as an overwhelming emotion in front of which the artist stays helpless and has no other choice than to let it flow through her.

Born in 1975 in India, Shivani AGGARWAL studied at the College of Art, New Delhi, and then obtained a Master degree in painting in 2004 at the Wimbledon School of Art, London. Living and working in New Delhi, the Indian artist explores issues related to gender, and more specifically defined roles of women, social expectations and their own ambitions, this with a wide range of media embracing painting, photography, sculpture, installation and video. The thematic of knitting as well as the red thread are the central pillars of her current artistic practice.

For Shivani AGGARWAL, knitting is an inherent childhood memory. Although her grandmother taught her knitting, sewing, crocheting and embroidery, she never got absorbed by these activities, but their imagery appeared in her work after the birth of her daughter, first as a symbol of motherhood, of blood vessels or the umbilical cord. Her diptych entitled Undoing (2008) seems at first to relate an unsuccessful attempts to knit. Jumbled, entangled threads are in a conflictual relation with the needles in the first painting, while in the second, one needle disappeared and the knitted part begins to undo itself. While the red thread and the needles are stuck in the cycle of building and breaking – which, for European viewer, immediately evokes the Ancient Greek myth of Penelope, endlessly weaving a shroud while waiting for her husband Odysseus to come back from war – we cannot but notice the striking absence of the human figure. If the red colour is also a symbolically loaded element in the Indian culture, especially in connection with marriage and religious ceremonies, in a broader lecture, the work ‘Undoing’ questions the unending and socially predefined „feminine tasks of adornment, of providing love and warmth, of repeatedly repairing objects and relations” – Shivani explains –, and explores the experience of tension and release, attachment and separation.

Ákos BÁNKI was born in 1982 in Hungary. He gained a Master degree in painting at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2006 and pursued his studies with a DLA formation in 2011 at the University of Pécs. He lives and works in Budapest. Ákos is one of the main figures of the new non-figurative painting wave in Hungary. As a total abstract painter who relates to actionism, expressionism, but also conceptualism, and who paints not only with his hand but with his whole body, not only with his mind, but with his guts, the dripping, leaking, flowing energy fields of Ákos Bánki’s works often slap the viewer with their energy, radiance and vibration.

The painting entitled Soul Flower n.2 (2009) is part of a larger eponymous cycle terminated in 2013. Is it an ironic title? We can probably say so, as the whole series is dominated by organic forms, cells, wounds, splashes of haemoglobin and dissected bodies, microscopic images of our interiors, diving in our flesh and blood. The chromatic character of whole series, dominated by the colours red and blue, is not meant to foster direct associations but does address our subconscious and evokes the Ancient Greek iconography in which the red colour refers to Dionysus, the Olympian god of wine, pleasure, and therefore life and will, and the blue to Apollo, god of light and the sun, of truth and more.

Ákos BÁNKI usually associates photographic studies of figurative elements to his series, extracting, transplanting and translating some of them into his abstract language and then integrating it to his paintings. An experienced reality therefore becomes a physical and psychic manifestation. Sweeping aside figuration, he seeks and sneaks into the psychological, emotive, subconscious quarters of chromatism and visuality in order to make it burst from inside, aiming to generate an effect, in other words to affect the viewer.

Marija BRASNIC is one the youngest artists selected for this monthly feature. She was born in 1990 in Croatia and obtained a Bachelor degree of fine arts in graphics at the Academy of arts in Osijek, where she is currently a Master student, and is already an actively exhibiting artist in the region. Her artistic practice ranges from painting, drawing, printmaking to photography and graphic design, but it is graphics which became the greatest influence and focal point of her activity. Beyond a technical mastery stemming from the different types of art she practiced at the university, Marija BRASNIC developed an experimental use and combination of techniques, coupling aquatint, etching, drypoint and even mechanical processing in her works.

The mixed media intaglio print entitled Worlds (2014) perfectly illustrates the original and innovative approach of the young artist, operating with a drill to achieve this piece. But her works are not only a technical bravura, and although they evoke bleak and dark urban environments at first sight, they are more to be looked at as autobiographical reflections based on her own experiences, feelings, observations and generally dealing with psychological topics and subconscious fields. Directly connected to this, Marija BRASNIC’s works present a variety of textures, surfaces, shades and planes, some softer, some harder, some lighter, some darker, generated by an intricate and tense relation between horizontals and verticals. Her creative practice is clearly an art of layers, processing the levels of subconscious into stratified graphics, unveiling a kind of visual geology of the artist’s but also the viewer’s psyche. The productive and aesthetical parts of Marija’s artistic approach merge and constitute a clearly identifiable and highly singular visual communication language in graphic art.

Born in 1988 in Spain, Eva FABREGAS COLELL was educated at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Barcelona from 2006 to 2010. She pursued with a Master degree in 2013 at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, where she currently lives and works. Her artistic practice dissects the concept of mobility and circulation, a focus rooted in her interest for Modernism, especially its inherent international character generated by homogenized and transportable patterns and forms.

Her video installation entitled 1986-1937 (Sunila) (2012) treats of the utopian ‘forest town’ of Sunila, a symbol of industrial progress designed by Alvar Aalto in 1937 in the south-east of Finland. As a modernist ideal of a semi-urban residential and industrial area which integrated function and environment in an organic unit, this housing plan, a community-based system of a building with flats, was radically contradicting the Finnish traditional housing ideology of the detached family home. Undergoing recession, privatisation and marginalisation since the 1980s, Sunila became a dormitory town for immigrant workers, losing its original function, community and caravans began to appear around the buildings. In Eva FABREGAS COLELL’s video, these two housing types, which represent by extension two ideologies and ages, are facing each other in a slow-motion and silent confrontation. The caravan being a portable home and an individual dwelling and therefore a kind of nostalgic return to the traditional Finnish housing, appears to be the complete opposite of Sunila, in which life has nothing to do with individuality and which was an international model. As a metaphor of the local, national values versus the international innovative movements, this work transcends itself and its focussed case-study to address the very actual issue of the rebirth of nationalisms across Europe.

Enzo COMIN (1979, Italy) is a multifaceted artist. While attending courses of aesthetics, painting and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna from 1999 to 2003, he also frequented the school of cinematographic direction and video production at the National Academy of Cinema of the city, then took writing, acting theatre and lyric singing courses. As a result of his broad interest for the different fields of art, his activity relies on photography, as well as on installation and performance, and is influenced by the multi-disciplinary relations between images and texts or sound. Exploiting the technical, theoretical and philosophical dichotomy between analogue and digital photography, and rethinking, questioning the role of photography today, Enzo COMIN turns mainly to analogue technology to express himself. He currently lives and works in Pordenone.

The series entitled First Manufactures (2014) is a reportage shot in the Armenian capital. Willing to experience as much as possible the reality of the country, he began to observe the large-scale modernisation program of Yerevan, where the old part was being demolished to give way to and the feverish construction of new giant buildings. Feeling the urge to leave his own professional camera at home and look for „local eyes”, the artist bought an old camera, an old lens and an expired film from the Soviet period on a flea market. This equipment, loaded with the history of the country and used as a filter or experiment allowed him to establish a genuine contact with what he saw. The pictorial effect as well as the blurry and tinted distortions are not the result of his conscious intervention, but arise accidentally from the expiration of the old film and the chemical processes used by the artist when developing the photos. This visual ambiguity turns out to be the poetic formulation of intertwined states and senses of foreignness and familiarity, dialogue and monologue, past and present.

Gábor KEREKES was born in 1975 in Hungary. He studied at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, where he graduated in painting in 2003. He lives and works in Budapest. Although he has been trained as a painter, Gábor developed since 2005 an intense activity in collage, the manuality of which stems probably from the practice of painting and the handling of materials. Cutting out by hand each element he uses, the artist has a tremendously large database in which he has been collecting, broadening, systematising and classifying the different categories – buildings, people, animals, machines, and so many more – for years, and in which he knows his way around thanks to his photographic memory. For the artist, the recycling of newspapers is just a tool to explore and meditate on the infinite possibilities to combine and create puzzles of the 21st century newsfeed.

Psy Rocket (2013) is 3 meters high work from a series entitled Air Balloon (2012-2014). In this piece which took him approximately two and a half months to realise, the artist creates alternative realities of a possible future. Beyond the spectacular and entertaining facet of this piece, the spectre of this psychedelic and post-apocalyptic future featuring flying cities unmistakably leads the viewer to think about the concepts of utopia and dystopia. If the artist agrees with this interpretation, he thinks more in terms of how the world would look like if the present order of things, use of raw materials and social structures were different. In this extreme condensation and concentration of references, the public personalities, places, objects, events we recognize from the constant flow of images surrounding us receive a new context and possibly a new interpretation and meaning, thus pointing at the thin frontier between actuality and history, as well as addressing the evanescent value of news and images related to them.

Born in Mexico in 1990, the young artist and curator Alejandro MORALES completed a Bachelor degree in both practice-based and theoretical disciplines in 2013 at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. He holds a BA in visual arts with a specialisation in sculpture and photography, as well as in theory and criticism of art with a focus on aesthetics and contemporary art. He currently lives and works in Juárez, Mexico, known to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world because of the ongoing drug war and the high rate of femicide connected to it. He is actively dealing with narcoviolence issues of his city and country especially through the analysis and manipulation of media. His current work gravitates to the thematic of disappearance, death, memory as well as the aesthetics of brutality and violence, using an eraser gum as his main tool.

His work Dust to dust / Ashes to ashes (2013) is a small transparent cube made of glass which contains a greyish powdery residue looking like ash. Alejandro MORALES collected this residue for one year, erasing with a gum one hundred bodies from the local newspapers of Juárez specialised in crimes and murders related to the drug war. The crude way in which unidentified bodies are exhibited and photographed shows how the media is echoing the violence of the drug war and fuelling the necroaesthetic build-up which developed around it. Beyond the obvious reference to cremation of the body and to the remaining ashes, Alejandro MORALES’s erasures are a critique and an aesthetic solution at the same time. The softness of the gum, the duration of the erasing process and its ritual connotations radically confront the immediacy and brutality of these death cases. At the end of the action, the place of the body remains white, as if someone finally took the trouble to cover it with a white blanket, a gesture soothing the collective deprivation of decency and mourning.

Quintin RIVERA-TORO was born in 1978 in Puerto Rico. After studying film and sculpture first at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras then at the Hunter College of New York, he gained a Master degree in sculpture in 2013 at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. He currently lives and works in Caguas, Puerto Rico. His artistic practice ranges from self-designed and staged actions, performance, sculpture, installation, to theatrics and participative productions. Reacting to social topics while referring to his individual experience, psychological or physical reactions, his works are either the visual investigation of isolated, self-absorbed imagery or quite radically the opposite, resulting in a dialogue and interaction with the social collective. He therefore connects individual with mass behaviour, and the rational, the emotional with the instinctive spheres.

He realised A Room Full of Doubts (2010) shortly after moving from his native Puerto Rico to Providence, Rhode Island. Knowing few people and working in a basement in uncomfortable conditions, the work clearly expressed the oppressive sense of uncertainty, foreignness and disrootedness in which the artist started to evolve. The accumulation of personal and professional doubts literally burst out on the wall, taking the form of an installation. Being not only a cathartic recognition, exteriorisation, verbalisation and aesthetisation of doubts, the piece also invaded the space by its dimensions, physically forcing the artist out of the basement and symbolically out of his own doubts. Quintin RIVERA-TORO turned this specific situation into a methodology of creation, often processing, transforming the specific locality of a particular architecture into a very personal document, and transcending it into a space of existential content.

An American artist of Yugoslav descent, Miroslav ZUKOVITZ (1982) completed his studies in painting at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit (Michigan, USA) in 2005, where he was worked as printmaking lecturer. Using a variety of media to express himself – printmaking, drawing, sculpture, and installation – he regularly exhibits both in Europe and in US, where he has been the recipient of several awards. As a transnational person with multiple cultural, linguistic and identity references, Miroslav ZUKOVITZ has a natural interest for the concept of in-between, the states of transition, transformation and impermanence related to his own personal story and experiences.

The piece entitled Graphitescape (2012) is made of pencil ends glued together and sculpted in a way which evokes a natural but imaginary landscape. Questioning our cartographic reference, the work appears to be riddle at first sight. Our associative reflexes and mechanics of the imaginary imperceptibly awakening, we try to figure out what country it is in the present, was in the past, or could have been in the infinite world of potentiality. Graphitescape is indeed a topographical representation of a non-existing island, a possible country, an elusive state, a place of transition, of in-between, which immediately and directly refers the impermanent character of any country’s borders: the pencil can not only interpreted as a tool for (re)writing (history) and (re)drawing (frontiers) but also a device that smears easily, constantly moves, never dries and is easily eraseable – therefore not used to sign official documents as visas for example. The feeling of fragility that arises in the viewer is emphasized by the small dimensions of the object and by the potentially further reducible and dividable structure of tiny even units. A minuscule monument for an impermanent land which poetically and lightly laughs at the vainness of History.