For almost 70 years now, the annual Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition has led the way in terms of bringing early prominence to ‘the ones to watch’ of the next generation of contemporary artists emerging from art schools and alternative art education initiatives throughout the UK. The entirely anonymous, open call selection process has traditionally proven to be a strong indicator of talent, with past participants – such as Eduardo Paolozzi, Derek Jarman, David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Helen Chadwick, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Monster Chetwynd, Rachel Maclean and Laure Prouvost – having gone on to become internationally renowned for their work. Previous selectors have included Ryan Gander, Tacita Dean, Sarah Lucas and Chris Ofili, and the show has always been reliably challenging and diverse in terms of the range of forms, ideas and content it showcases.
This year’s presentation will feature 45 promising artists of mixed gender, age and nationality chosen by Rana Begum, Sonia Boyce and Ben Rivers, and will debut at Leeds Art Gallery before making its way to South London Gallery in December. A series of core themes already identified across the 2019 selection demonstrates a cohort engaged with the politics of now; from Eliot Lord’s satirical depictions of Boris Johnson and Brexit, and Roei Greenberg’s photographs taken along the Israeli/Syrian border, through to a plethora of works addressing class, gender and sexuality.
Performance, animation, installation and video will all feature alongside painting, photography and sculpture. We’re especially looking forward to seeing Mary Herbert’s ghostly pastels exploring the complexities of memory and sensation, and Roland Carline’s interdisciplinary investigation into how the process of communal making and showing can provide a powerful vehicle for learning, relationship building, social and political resistance.
By distilling graduate artists down to this tightly curated extent, and providing a crucial, critical platform, New Contemporaries manages to be both raw and sophisticated; serving as an exciting indicator for what’s around the corner in terms of British contemporary art as ever. This year’s 70th anniversary edition is a must-see.
Check out our guide to the best art galleries in Leeds for other places to visit whilst you’re there.