A celebration of excellence in art from across the world, the annual Aesthetica Art Prize offers both emerging and established artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience, and further their engagement with the international art world. As part of the next generation of talent, 12 shortlisted artists push the boundaries of innovation, questioning the value that we place on ourselves and the world around us.
Amongst the common themes linking many of the works in this year’s selection are the wider effects of over-consumption, media stimulation and emotional disconnection in an era of digital technology and post-truth, and the resulting risks to human autonomy. This is clearly apparent not only in the video and installation works on view, which draw upon interactive technology and the latest digital techniques, but in the Zeitgeist paintings of Peter Davis, who is shortlisted in the Painting & Drawing category and creates portraits of the relationship between people and their personal technology.
In his painting Cardboard Reality 1, the UK-based artist explores the emergence of virtual reality and the relationship it bears to the actual. There is a deliberate dichotomy in the painting’s composition, between the inviting expression of the young woman as she experiences a world through her virtual reality device, and the blank, emotionless real-world environment which is surrounding her. This serves to challenge the immediacy of perception and also to suggest a growing sense of isolation and divorce from the real world.
Davis regards this body of work as a social documentary that poses questions about the digital world we inhabit and the status of the human being in today’s society, again echoing a recurring theme of the exhibition, the status of the self and its relationship to the social and economic structures it inhabits.
The other shortlisted artists in contention for the 2018 prize, whose work spans categories from performance to photography, and employs approaches as diverse as water-powered sculptural structures and the visualisation of financial data, are: David Birkin (USA); Electra Lyhne-Gold (UK); Fabio Lattanzi Antinori (UK); Jiayu Liu (UK); Jukhee Kwon (Italy); Kenji Ouellet (Germany); Laura Woodward (Australia); Lisa Chang Lee (UK); Noémi Varga (UK); Reginald Van de Velde (Belgium); Shauna Frischkorn (USA).
Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition 2018 is York Art Gallery until 30 September. For more information, click here.
1. Peter Davis, Cardboard Reality 1. Courtesy of the artist.