RCA Show 2014

As every year, the Royal College of Art in London manages to surprise with its Summer Show, giving us the chance to discover many new and promising talents. Usually, you leave the exhibition with your bag full of nice postcards and business cards, but more importantly, with an endless list of young artists to follow and further research on. The Fine Art section, located in the Battersea Buildings, offers a vast selection of artworks ranging from painting to printmaking, also including sculpture and photography works. In the building next door, the School of Materials showcases an impressive collection of ceramics, glass objects, gold and silver work, as well as fashion and textile designs. So to say: there is something for every taste!

Here is a selection of the best new talents:


Isabel Yellin
Isabel Yellin, Installation View at the RCA Show 2014
Isabel Yellin, Installation View at the RCA Show 2014

(b. 1987, New York City)

This piece was one of the most impressive works presented in the exhibition. The size of it is for sure a key element in the attraction process, but yet, there seems to be something else. The artwork wavers between painting and sculpture: not totally a painting, as it is not properly hanged on a wall and it takes a 3D shape; and not a sculpture, strictly speaking, as the painting elements are strongly present (it is made of canvas, paint and disparate objects). This leads us to ask ourselves: what for? Is the artist reflecting on the painting as a medium, on its future in contemporary art? No more a space of spatial illusion – like it was with the invention of perspective – neither an abstract surface that witness its ‘flatness’: rather a hybrid object that constructs itself in response to the multi-media approach encouraged by contemporary art practices.


 Vivien Zhang
Vivien Zhang, Twofold, 2014
Vivien Zhang, Twofold, 2014

(b. 1990, Beijing)

 “Through a play of absence and presence – repetitions followed by eruptions, intersecting drives of gestures, and accelerations within stutters – I challenge what may be recognised and mis-recognised within fields of modulating motifs in my work, to resist assumptions of the unknown that is outside presence.” (artist’s statement)


Nicholas Johnson

(b. 1982, Honolulu, Hawaii)

Nicholas Johnson, Mildew Swoosh, 2013-14

“In my work I’m interested in expressing a sensation of abundance, an overflowing or an overripe decadence. A sensation of submersion or looking into a shallow pond and realising that you can see many layers of visual information at once, the surface of the water, the floor of the pond and things floating in between. I paint mostly plants and flowers, that look as if they could be mouldy or have gone-off slightly.” (Interview from Hunger TV)



Mark Essen
Mark Essen, May all creatures roam free, n.d.
Mark Essen, May all creatures roam free, n.d.

(b. 1984, Reigate, UK)

The artist chose to exhibit his works outside of the building, in an industrial and messy setting. An eclectic selection is on display: some organic and colorful forms put on a table, two piles of pink and blue foot, a sort of round panel made of zinc, and finally, some roughly shaped concrete with colourful patterns painted on it. The main interests of the artist seem to be directed towards the environment and the contextualization of the artwork, but also underline the opposition natural/transformed object (the foot are looking like real ones but are blue, the base of the concrete sculptures seem to be untouched but the paint on it brings transformation).


Katrin Hanusch
Katrin Hanusch, The Wanker, 2014
Katrin Hanusch, The Wanker, 2014

(b. 1978, Kulmbach, Germany)

The works she exhibits here are not nicely finished and polished pieces, as one might expect from classical sculpture, but rather messy and motley assemblages of various materials. Foam, glass, timber, plasterboard and film put together and fixed on a metal bar, plaster casts regularly staked under the roof, layers of iron casts with a tablet hidden inside: a festival of still chaos that surprisingly brings a sense of calm and equilibrium.



Hemya Moran
Hemya Moran, The Commonlanders, Reenactment 23 (Hay Street) #2, n.d.
Hemya Moran, The Commonlanders, Reenactment 23 (Hay Street) #2, n.d.

(b. 1985, lives and works in London)

“The difference between a private and a public digital image blurs due to mutual assimilation. The private moment is forever afflicted by the photographic consciousness. With these acknowledgements as my venture point, I explore and process both fictive anda documentary visual sources, extracting what I perceive as images of idealised intimacy. Their reenactments serve in the fabrication of an autobiographical image collection. Acts of presentation, rather than representation, enable me to examine interpersonal themes and questions of identity.” (artist’s statement)


Alix Marie
Alix Marie, Orlando, installation view, 2014
Alix Marie, Orlando, installation view, 2014

(b. 1989, Paris)

“My practice considers the photograph as object and explores its potential for materiality, touch, and three-dimensionality; thus crossing and mixing the mediums of photography and sculpture. This is carried out through working with notions as the bodily and femininity. My experience of my own body and my perception of others’ is at the core of my practice. Intimate relations such as working with my mother or lover’s body are at the start of my enquiry.” (artist’s statement)


Dominic Hawgood
Dominic Hawgood, Under the influence, n.d.
Dominic Hawgood, Under the influence, n.d.

(b.1980, UK)

 “Within my work three main themes persist: a fascination with technology, states of mind, and the removal of something from the real world.  I take inspiration from things I observe, studying, isolating and reconstructing, and there is a constant drive to conjure something though the work, an attempt to transport the viewer somewhere.” (artist’s statement)

To discover more about Under the influence, visit the project page.


Daewoong Kim
Kin Daewoong, Beyond Sustenance, n.d.
Kin Daewoong, Beyond Sustenance, n.d.

(b. 1984, Seosan, Korea)

“My work is an attempt to begin to explore these feelings and ideas about memory, identity and loss, by using photography as a means to access the past through the present. Still life presents us with an idea of something being unmoving and unchanging, it also offers the possibility of an image that abides memory and invites contemplation. Ideas of loss and childhood, always take place within change, although, at some level, it feels as if nothing has changed at all. From this arises an ambiguity of feeling, which I am keen to explore through these images. The distance between myself as an adult and my memory of myself as a child increases with time. Many things change and many things never change. It is that ambiguous feeling as my mother’s son- that sustains my work.” (artist’s statement)



Alice Gauthier
Alice Gauthier, Hold on, Let me see, 2014
Alice Gauthier, Hold on, Let me see, 2014

(b. France, lives and works in London)

“I would like to erase your borders. Your periphery is made of particles. I can’t say if you have a line around you or it is your aura moving. If I screw my eyes you are more clear and if I fix you, you evaporate. I would like to erase your borders in order to make your particles part of my aura. So I will be enveloped too and your soul will be mixed with mine. This is my wish. Let me know: what do you think of this plan?” (artist’s statement)



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