I can’t remember a time when contemporary art in London was as changing and varied as it is today. There were times when certain media or approaches seemed off the menu or out of place, when certain groups dominated. But in 2022, more and more, anything goes, and often in individual practices: of the six artists featured here, Phoebe Collings-James, Vlatka Horvat and Yarli Allison are performers and creators, their practices happily drifting between n any medium. These are my artists to watch in 2022: a handful of bright young people, like Rachel Jones and Collings-James, alongside those who have done consistently good work for years, like Samson Kambalu and Allison Katz. They are a testament to the continued strength of the art being made in this city, no matter what one throws at its artists.
Jones, based in Essex, is in for a great time. Her excellent solo exhibition at Thaddaeus Ropac in Mayfair, SMIIILLLLEEEE, runs until February 5, and in March she unveils a new commission at Chisenhale, say cheeeeese. As the title suggests, we can expect more compositions using the teeth as a rack for its distinctive and exuberant combinations of pastels and oil sticks. Teeth are a universal symbol for an ambitious artist to reach the greatest number: “everyone understands what it is to have a sore mouth and teeth, or whether it is a place of pleasure”.
Rachel Jones: say cheeeeese, Chisenhale Gallery, March 12 to June 12, chisenhale.org.uk
Over the summer, Black Jack, Samson Kambalu’s colorful series of remixed flags – reflections on national identity and political movements – provided colorful backdrops around the South Bank Centre. But Malawi-born Kambalu has a bigger public project on the horizon: his Antelope sculpture will be unveiled on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth in the fall. A rather conventional-looking bronze at first glance, it captures a radical moment when a Malawian preacher and independence hero, John Chilembwe, dons a hat in the company of a European missionary. Africans were forbidden by the colonialists to wear hats in the presence of whites. Kambalu says he sees the sculpture as “a litmus test of how much I belong in British society as an African and as a cosmopolitan”. Amid the ongoing statuary debate, the appearance of his sculpture could not be better timed.
Samson Kambalu, Antelope, Fourth Plinth, Fall 2022
It has been a huge few months for Collings-James: she is part of the Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS) shortlisted for the Turner Prize and presented a beautifully presented and hugely powerful exhibition of her ceramics at the Camden Art Center, which closed its doors. in December. Meanwhile, she is part of Body Vessel Clay: Black Women, Ceramics & Contemporary Art at Two Temple Place in central London from January. She will present works from her series The subtil rules the dense: forms that evoke ancient Roman body armor and yet, with the layers of enamels and oxides of Collings-James, have an erotic delicacy. She also runs Mudbelly, a ceramic workshop with free classes for black people in London, with tutors from black ceramic artists.
Body Vessel Clay: black women, ceramics and contemporary art. Two Temple Place, from January 29 to April 24 twotempleplace.org
Quietly, one of the first landmark works of 2022 could be Horvat’s To See Stars over Mountains, both an artist’s book and an exhibition at Peer, the East End non-profit space. Horvat lived in London for a time but has exhibited more widely elsewhere, including the United States, where she studied performance and theater in the 1990s. She continues to perform, alongside sculpture and video, but at the heart of his Peer show will be a unique recording of our extraordinary moment: 365 works, one produced each day of 2021, from photographs taken during daily walks, embellished with drawing and collage. Horvat transforms everyday escapes into imaginary flights, poetically transforming our banal urban landscapes.
Vlatka Horvat: By hand, on foot, by peers, N1, from February 4 to April 2, peeruk.org
Katz was in the recent Mixing It Up exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, and among that exhibition of 31 other painters was a distinctive, quirky voice, which makes his show at Camden Art Center his first solo exhibition in a space. London audience, a tantalizing prospect. And, like Rachel Jones, mouths are one of the Canadian-born, London-based artist’s many recurring subjects: gaping mouths, with teeth and gums as frames for various other images. Other frequent motifs include roosters, monkeys and cabbages. Katz is a latter-day surrealist, with a gift for the disturbing encounter of objects and sentient beings, a flair for the absurd. And then there are his materials: Katz regularly uses rice in the middle of the painting, for example. It’s a real original.
Allison Katz: Artery, Camden Art Centre, January 14-March 13, camdenartcentre.org
Allison uses her background and her displacement – she was born in Canada and grew up in Hong Kong before coming to Europe – as the foundation for surprisingly visually rich works. Using a multimedia collage style with elements of digital technologies, video, performance, drawing and more, she creates a futurism rooted in research of the past – colonial legacies, queer histories and much more. His multimedia installation at FACT Liverpool (until February 22), for example, reimagines Chinatown in that city and the lost stories of its Chinese sailors. Allison is one of many other emerging artists to feature in Decriminalized Futures, ICA’s upcoming exhibition on sex worker rights, a collaboration with arts and social change collective Arika, and Swarm, the Sex Worker Advocacy. and Resistance Movement.
Decriminalized Futures, ICA, February 15 to May 22, ica.art