BODY OF WORK: A scene from Bartley's postmodern take on "Birth of Venus". Below, McGilchrist with gallery curator Gilou Bauer at Monday's prize presentation.
On Monday evening, the curtains came down on 2012’s iteration of the Super Plus Under-40 Artist of the Year competition, with a well-supported awards presentation inside the cozy Mutual Gallery. While fine-art photographer Olivia McGilchrist nabbed the Jury Prize for her tour-de-force submissions, collectively titled Sudden White, Marvin Bartley, a commercial lensman, claimed the Public Prize for his spellbinding Untitled series.
On closer inspection, one realizes that as far as Bartley’s and McGilchrist’s individual pieces go, they couldn’t possibly be any more radically different. Bartley seemingly aimed for shock value (and duly earned it) with a trio of brave-new-world, wildly postmodern watercolour prints – “The Great Rape,” “The Birth of Venus” and River Styx (The Arrival of Columbus”) – serving up a fierce feast of flesh and same-sex liaisons, set against enchanting land- and seascapes. “The Birth of Venus” is a particularly stunning piece that immediately arrests your attention and holds you in its corporeal thrall.
McGilchrist, on the other hand, offers a remarkable audio-video installation dubbed “Lover’s Lead” and a cache of multi-dimensional, viscerally powerful archival inkjet prints (including the starkly minimalist “Red Dress” series) that exude a sense of longing with a touch of despair and morbid fascination. Rounding out this year’s quartet of finalists were Berette Macaulay’s ReKon, a blend of mosaic-like light box with handmade photo transfers and mixed media installations; and Leasho Johnson’s curious Church In Session, boasting pieces with such names as “Pum Pum Tun Up.”
“There is no doubt that the artists have produced their best work and in most cases have worked hard towards this competition. There seems to be a strong movement towards photography which rivals paintings for visual impact,” stated the judges’ report. “While commending the photographers for the high quality of their work, we want more painters to participate. A couple of the artists in the exhibition have clearly attained a level of artistic development comparable to anything to be seen in the art world today.”
>> DO GO SEE: The exhibition is still on view at the Mutual Gallery, Oxford Road.