Aesthetica and York Museums Trust present the Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, running from 26 March to 31 May at York St Mary’s – York Art Gallery’s contemporary art space. Now in its eighth year, the Prize is an internationally acclaimed award that recognises excellence in contemporary art from around the world awarding £5,000 to the winner, courtesy of Hiscox.
Returning to York for 2015, this vibrant presentation of selected works builds upon the great success of last year’s show, which welcomed over 20,000 visitors to the gallery and highlighted artistic talent from Chile, Germany, New Zealand, the USA and the UK. The voting public awarded German installation artist Sybille Neumeyer with the People’s Choice Award for Song for the Last Queen (2013) – a powerful piece concerning pertinent environmental issues with a strong visual impact.
Chilean artist Inés Molina Navea, a finalist in the Prize last year, exhibited five composite portraits in a poignant photographic study of gender, identity and social politics. Her work 541 días was acquired by the Hiscox Collection, one of the largest private collections internationally.
2015’s artists hail from Australia, Japan, Germany and the UK and present stunning feats of craftsmanship alongside ingenious creative practice in the categories of Photographic & Digital Art, Three Dimensional Design and Sculpture, Painting & Drawing, and Video, Installation & Performance.
Over 3,500 entries were received from 60 countries worldwide, from which eight were shortlisted for the exhibition and a further 92 longlisted. These will be published in the accompanying book, the Aesthetica Art Prize Anthology. Contributing to York’s strong cultural offer, the Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition brings diverse works to the city, with topics ranging from an exploration into our universal existence, to individual experiences in a world where nostalgia contents with technology and the intensity of urban living masks a true sense of belonging.
2015’s Shortlist Announced:
Artists include John Keane, who came to national prominence in 1991 when he was appointed as official British war artist during the Gulf War, and Marcus Lyon, whose photographs are held in numerous private and public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Arts Council England.
Keane exhibits four paintings from his Fear series (2012-2013) drawing upon images of the great Stalinist terror of the 1930s, while Lyon shows a selection of photographs from his Exodus collection (2010-2014), inspired by the resilience of humanity at the edge of existence and global mass behaviours.
Suzanne Mooney’s chosen works Come away, O’… (2013) and Tokyo Summit A (2012) are both part of a larger body of work, Outside In, which explores city-view observatories in Tokyo. Suspended from the rafters of York St Mary’s, Come away, O’… presents the viewer with two framed cityscapes, one featuring a silhouetted figure, the other unoccupied. This invites the viewer to become a second figure on-looking, as light permeates through the translucent digital artwork creating transitory shadows.
Sound sculpture Requiem (2012) by Australian artist Julian Day comprises four synthesizers connected by steel bars pressing on keys. This act of resistance prompts a series of persistent tones that flood the work’s immediate environment, adding an acoustic element to the exhibition. Through the refashioning of these inanimate objects, we confront our own spatial presence within a collective soundscape.
Other finalists include conceptual installation artist Vera Drebusch. Her work Preservation (2012) features a collection of containers, the contents of which is made from fruits grown in the grounds of foreign embassies in the city of Bonn, Germany. Harvested from plants grown on soil which, consistent with international law, belongs to Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the contents of the containers reveal the abstract division of territory.
Also exhibiting is Sheffield-based sculptor Owen Waterhouse, who is represented in public and private collections including The Sheffield Assay Office, English Heritage and Doncaster Racecourse; Saliha Elhoussaini whose thread drawings were also displayed at the Mall Galleries, London (2014) and who has also exhibited at The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2014; and video installation artist Matt Parker, Arts Council funded Artist in Residence at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
Cherie Federico, Director and Curator of the Art Prize, comments: “This year’s exhibition raises the bar for creative excellence featuring leading artists in painting, photography, installation and film, presenting a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors to step inside York St Mary’s and discover diverse works from around the world. Each piece comments on issues relevant in today’s society, and offers a momentary pause from everyday life to reflect on both our universal and individual experiences.”
Whitney Hintz, Curator of Hiscox’s corporate art collection, commented: “We are proud to sponsor this year’s Aesthetica Art Prize, which promotes excellence in art from around the world. As a company that is passionate about supporting the arts, we understand the countless benefits art brings to a community and look forward to having a display of such critical and dynamic works on the doorstep of our new landmark office here in York.”
Visitors to the Art Prize will also have the opportunity to vote for their winner in the People’s Choice Award. Voters will be automatically entered into the free prize draw with a chance to win a special night out for two in York, including a meal and drinks to the value of £100 at The Star Inn The City, located on the edge of the city’s picturesque Museum Gardens, two tickets to Reel Cinema York for any film and champagne cocktails at 1331.
The Aesthetica Art Prize partners and sponsors include York Museums Trust, Hiscox, York St John University, The Hepworth Wakefield, Flowers, HOME, Winsor & Newton, Prestel, The Star Inn The City, Reel Cinema York and 1331.