Contemporary Art Market: Creations to turn the critics purple

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A CHANCE to spot who will hog the headlines in tomorrow's art scene is being offered by the Lisson Gallery (52-54 Bell Street, London NW1). Nicholas Logsdail, its proprietor, three of whose discoveries have carried off Turner prizes, has picked 40 young, mostly unknown, artists that he reckons represent the most exciting trends in new British art for a show titled 'Wonderful Life'.

'The collector has got to penetrate a smoke screen,' he said. 'Probably only 5 or 10 of these artists will make it.' But getting it wrong is not unbearably expensive; nothing is priced at more than pounds 5,000. Since the show opened on 17 July, 35 pieces have been sold. 'It's been incredibly successful,' Mr Logsdail said. 'It proves that the art world is not dead.'

This is the kind of art that turns old-fashioned critics purple with rage. Steven John Pippin has taken four photographs upwards, out of the bowl of a lavatory, titled them Follys of an Amateur Photographer, and offered the set at pounds 2,400. Roderick Buchanan has a strip of metal the width of a goalmouth, painted white and accompanied by a vinyl text reading: 'FULL SCALE PREMIER LEAGUE GOALMOUTH.' Price: pounds 2,500.

Considering the wide variety of expression, the show has a surprising homogeneity. To begin with, it follows the definition of art as 'ideas given visual form'; there is no attempt to be decorative. Beyond that, the artists are almost all engaged in recording their amazement and fear at the true nature of reality. The overall effect is powerful.

Georgina Starr has recorded the wind whistling round a flat, then tried to imitate it by whistling herself; a 7-inch vinyl record of her whistling, accompanied by a photograph, is offered in an edition of three at pounds 1,200. She has also made a four- minute video of herself crying - deeply genuine and disturbing - which costs pounds 1,500.

Don Brown has photographed a crowd in Paris, cut 12 tiny figures out of the black and white photo, and framed them with huge mounts ( pounds 1,500). Then he has modelled the figures from coloured plastic and arranged them standing on a plinth in the original conformation ( pounds 2,000).

My favourites include a pair of photographs manipulated by Thomas Gidley, titled Know Thyself/Mistake Thyself ( pounds 900 in an edition of 10). He has arranged six images of himself in a circle; in one picture he is reading the Independent.

Then there is an exotic comment on genetic engineering. Christopher Bucklow persuaded a noted gardener, the late Robert Garner, to graft a hawthorn on to a pear tree. The tree stands in a pot - wilting in a gallery environment - and is accompanied by four colour photographs of Garner making the graft and the two species fruiting simultaneously. I hope the tree will survive the show. It costs pounds 4,000.

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