Andy Warhol once said “In the future’ everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” Did he simply mean that we all have our own story to tell, or was he guessing that future attention-seeking generations would demand the invention of devices such as the internet or YouTube? Maybe he was suggesting that either everyone is special or no-one is? I think if he was alive now and I asked him to explain or expand on what he meant he might have just replied, ‘Gee… I…er… don’t know.” I know that in another famous quotation he said that an artist is someone who produces things that other people don’t need but that the artist thinks would be a good idea to give them.
I have selected 15 artists that I think are more than worthy of your attention. It would be very easy for me to select 15 up-and-coming artists that already have major gallery backing them-making sure their work is selling in art fairs. But what I’ve actually done is pick 15 artists who impress me for different reasons. Some of the them using heroes, other could possible be classed as outsiders. What they have in common is that they have all intrigued and delighted me with their ideas and I’m very keen to see what work they’ll make in the future. I’m asking you, the reader, to give them 15 minutes of your time reading about them. I hope you’ll get on famously.
GUY ALLOTT is a sensitive soul. For the last two years or more his work has focused on motifs he discovered in forests, parks and woods. Sometimes he paints what he sees and other rimes he subverts and improves on what Mother Nature has given us. There are plenty of art references made in his work but I’m more interested in what drives Guy and how he gets the results he does. I’ve known artists and writers who care so much they can never actually make their own work. Allott dispels the theory that men always destroy what they love. I like Guy’s work because somehow it’s always thoughtful, gentle and kind.
HANNAH BAYS has said she makes work that is “more bloodstained than rose-tinted”. She paints, draws and collages. Loss and loneliness are recurring themes in her evocative work, often injected with the artist’s uniquely surreal wit. Bays is a member of the Bare Bones collective,her artwork has also appeared on the sleeves of several records by Babyshambles.
MEL BROOMFIELD curated ambitious projects such as Radio Radio, The Comic Book and The Golden Record, involving both comedians and artists. In 2009 she had a solo show entitled Waiter Waiter, There’s A Sculpture In My Soup at the Pump House Gallery and at the Ceri Hand Gallery. At the opening of her show a classically trained pianist treated visitors to a reenactment of the late Les Dawson’s out of tune classics. Other works include a tribute to Eric & Ernie made in the style of Gilbert & George. the film director Preston Sturges once pointed out that “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that’s all some people have?” Well said, Preston. Keep them coming, Ms Brimfield.
MARCUS COPE currently sees painting as being similar to playing an ever-changing game. His aim is to not be bound to a particular or way of working, so that the rules of the game are always fluid and the barriers of what he can do remain in flux. Paintings may include of banal office chairs or of salt being sprinkled on opened wounds. He’s also been known to use text, oddly-shaped frames and even stitched- on tennis balls. The artist says: “My attempt is to let the picture appear, almost as if I don’t care about the result, so that I can forget it and start all over again tomorrow.” Marcus loves painting and his work is about wanting to share that love.
LEE EDWARDS makes astonishingly detailed work. A hopeless romantic, his current series of miniature paintings are a tribute to the idea of unrequited love and, alas, to the ladies he has lost. So much time and effort goes into his work but the results are always worth it.
AUGUST KUNNAPU makes eyecatching portraits of those who matter most to him. His paintings stick out a mile. He believes in painting and its healing qualities. He sets himself projects such as painting portraits of his favourite architects on the doors of the now-condemned house he grew up in.
KATE LYDDON is a daydreamer. Visually, her work is obviously influenced by Francis Bacon and early David Hockney, but she definitely has her own voice and sense of humour. Often song lyrics are painted or stitched onto her works. The characters in her work are living lives that she potentially could have led. Planet Lyddon is always a charming place to visit.
MARISOL MALATESTA makes beautiful and often amusing drawings and paintings to express the feelings of self-doubt and vulnerability associated with being a stranger far from home. She mixes contemporary images from TV advertisements and magazines with ancient colonial painting and archaeological artefacts. Her work seems both playful and innocent, but there is more to it than meets the eye. I remember the first time I ever saw her work was when someone handed me a flyer for one of her shows. I remember looking at her drawing and grinning whilst thinking: “This is brilliant.”
CHLOE MORTIMER is a young art school dropout whose work chews up the art of the past and then spits it out. Her silly titles such as Van Gogh’s Cock will not amuse everybody but it’s hard to dispute that she’s skilled when it comes to putting together arresting images. Mortimer claims, “Sometimes I play around with the personal histories and myths about great male artists. But a good painting is a good painting. If a painting is strong it can forgive a lot.”
LIZ MURRAY works with sculpture, installation, sound and video. For a long time I admired her approach to making work. She once described what she does as: “Re-making objects to highlight the gap between and imagination.” She rebuilt a New York police precinct from me with cardboard boxes last year and made viewers crawl around on the floor to enter. Currently she is interested in all things paranormal; her most recent projects involved a seance in Kielder Castle, and next year she’ll be spending 3 months in Prague researching the Golem of Jewish folklore. Murray’s projects never fail to intrigue and inspire.
LIAM SCULLY walks that thin line between being a genius and a mentalist. His installations of crazy drawings of people he’s seen in a red top newspaper photos are sometimes excitingly good. The artist Mark McGowan describes Scully as, “an amazing performance artist” whilst others rate Scully’s strange videos and Wayne Rooney prints. Liam has a mad look in his eyes but he’s not a frightening person. There’s something very warm and charming about both the man and his work.
JAMES UNSWORTH is an award-winning printmaker whose influences include Daniel Johnston, Paul McCarthy and Joe Orton. His work often beautifully depicts fat hairy perverts having a good time. Maybe you could say his work questions whether there is such a thing as good bad taste? A recent gallery show included a short film consisting of a gay couple taking it in turns to squirt sauce over a pile of rubbish. The film was screened inside a rather nice garden shed. I was fascinated by the way the faces of some viewers were lit up with sinful delight at the pure filth they were watching.
JULIAN WAKELING is a photographer for whom the most ugly and ordinary street can have strangeness and beauty. Formal painterly concerns are one aspect of his work but you could also say his photos are a celebration of chance. Wakeling photographs every day, in a ritual gathering of images. He aims to fix a small part of the chaos of the present moment in order to reveal some of its mystery.
GERALDINE SWAYNE is currently on tour with the highly influential krautrock legends Faust. She makes life-enhancing, playful yet disturbing films and is an incredibly good painter. Anyone who is any good doubts the validity of what they do but few artists I know are as hard on themselves as Geraldine. The faces of the ugly/beautiful freaks tormented by feelings of fear, guilt and revenge that inhabit her paintings often stay with you after you’ve left the gallery.
MARIE SMITH forces people to think about the mad ideas and presumptions that we all have in our heads and project onto others. She makes work that focuses on the tension of black female identity and the manipulation/construction of self, through the media of photography and painting. She often uses herself as a canvas for ideas, and plays different characters that highlight worrying views that many people have. In an attempt to reflect the absurdity of racial stereotyping, she created Miss Fanny-Sue Best, who is a light-skinned black female minstrel character. Some will find Ms Best’s exaggerated features a little disturbing but the artist claims her aim is to “evoke a sense of pride, elegance and beauty”.