ART IS PUTTING UP NEW SHOOTS
Opening February 17th, the elegant new Darren Baker Gallery in Charlotte Street offers a selection of works by a spectrum of artists now living and working in this country. The exhibition is a collaboration between Jason Colchin-Carter, founder of Isis Phoenix Arts, and Agnieszka Perche, gallery manager. The bustling diversity of the London street scene outside will be more than matched by what can be seen in the handsome gallery space.
The point of the show is not to emphasise any particular movement or tendency, but to illustrate how various the London art world has become, and what a large number of extremely different initiatives it now has to offer. The artists include a number of the rising stars who are emerging from British art schools – among them Bartholomew Beal, still in his 20s, who recently had a sell out solo show at the Fine Art Society in Bond Street , and Richard Twose, equally recently a major prize-winner at the National Portrait Gallery – but also non-British artists who have chosen to live and work in this country. Examples are the figurative painter Tarik Berber, who is of Bosnian origin, and who trained at the celebrated Florentine Academy, and the abstractionist Clifford Charles, a black South African artist with a studio at the great Goodwood estate in Sussex. Britain has welcomed these and others to its ever-expanding art community.
The idea of a unified, officially supported ‘avant-garde’ is still being vigorously pushed by a number of respected institutions in this country. However, as more and more new artists emerge on the British scene, it is becoming evident that this model, however convenient it may be to established critics and curators, is no longer valid. China’s Communist regime, once, in the 1950s, adopted the slogan “Let a thousand flowers bloom.” It turned out that Chairman Mao and his party committee didn’t mean it. Let’s not make that mistake now.
As the old definitions of what is avant-garde and what isn’t crumble and dissolve, it is time to embrace a new kind of pluralism. This show shows the extent to which old orthodoxies are being challenged. Spring is almost with us. Fresh green shoots are appearing – some of them in wholly unexpected places. This is true in art, just as it is in nature.