Can’t remember a time when contemporary art in London was as shaping and diverse as it is today. There have been times when certain media or perspectives seemed out of the menu or beyond fade, when certain groups dominated. But in 2022, increasingly, anything goes, and often within individual practices: Of the six artists featured here, Phoebe Collings-James, Vlatka Horvat, and Yarlée Ellison are artists and producers, their practices in whatever medium fits. sits, happily flows between them. These are my cast to watch in 2022: a smattering of bright young things like Rachel Jones and Collings-James, along with people who have consistently done great things over the years, like Samson Kambalu and Allison Katz. They testify to the continued strength of the art being created in this city, whatever is being thrown at its artists.
Essex-based Jones is in a great moment. His outstanding solo exhibition at Thaddeus Ropack in Mayfair, SMILLLLLEEEE, continues until 5 February, and in March he unveiled a new commission in Chiesenhalle, Such as Cheese. As the title suggests, we can expect more creations in the form of racks using teeth to make for distinctive, highly colorful combinations of pastels and oil sticks. Teeth are a universal symbol for an artist who is ambitious to reach as many people as possible: “everyone understands what it is like to have a pain in your mouth and teeth, or for it to be a place of joy”.
Rachel Jones: Say Cheese, Chissenhall Gallery, March 12 to June 12, chisenhale.org.uk
During the summer, Black Jack, Samson Kambalu’s colorful series of remixed flags – reflections on nationality and political movements – provided a colorful backdrop around the South Bank Centre. But Malawi-born Kambalu has a bigger public project on the horizon: His sculpture Antelope will be unveiled on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth in autumn. A traditional-looking bronze at first, it captures a radical moment, where a Malawi preacher and independence hero, John Chilembwe, puts on a hat in the company of a European missionary. Africans were forbidden by the colonists to wear hats in the presence of white people. Kambalu says that he sees the sculpture as “a litmus test of how much I relate to British society as an African and as a cosmopolitan”. Amid the ongoing debate about the statue, his sculptural appearance could not have come at a better time.
Samson Kambalu, Antelope, Fourth Plinth, Autumn 2022
It’s been a big few months for Collings-James: She’s part of the Turner Prize-shortlisted Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS) and she had a beautifully rendered and insanely powerful show of ceramics at the Camden Art Center, which closed in December . Meanwhile, she has been part of Body Vessel Clay: Black Women, Ceramics and Contemporary Art at Two Temple Place in central London since January. There, she will show work from her series Astral Laws Dense: forms that evoke ancient Roman body armor and yet, with Collings-James’s layers of glazes and oxides, have a sensual delicacy. She also runs Mudbelly, a ceramics workshop for black people in London with black ceramic artist tutors.
Body Vessel Clay: Black Women, Ceramics and Contemporary Art. Two Temple Place, January 29 to April 24, twotempleplace.org
Quietly, one of the first landmark works of 2022 could be the Croatian-born Horvat’s to Sea Stars Over the Mountains, both an artist’s book and show at Peer, the non-profit East End Space. Horvat lived in London for some time, but exhibited more widely elsewhere, including the US, where he studied performance and theater in the 1990s. She continues to perform alongside sculpture and video, but at the core of her peer show will be a unique record of our extraordinary moment: 365 works, one each day of 2021, drawing based on photographs taken on a daily walk. Ornate and college. Horvat turns everyday escapes into flights of imagination, poetically transforming our monotonous urban landscape.
Vlatka Horvat: by hand, on foot, peer, N1, from February 4 to April 2, pirook.org
Katz was in the Hayward Gallery’s recent exhibition Mixing It Up, and among 31 other painters from that show, had a distinctive and quirky voice that would make her the Camden Art Center show, her first solo exhibition in a London public space, a mouthwatering prospect. Is. And, like Rachel Jones, mouths are one of many recurring themes of the Canadian-born, London-based artist: those with gaping teeth and gums as frames for other images. Her other frequent motifs are the cockerel, the monkey, and the cabbage. Katz is a later surrealist, with a flair for the absurd, with a knack for the volatile meeting of objects and sentient beings. And then there’s her ingredients: Katz, for example, regularly uses rice between paints. He is a real original.
Allison uses her background and displacement – she was born in Canada and grew up in Hong Kong before coming to Europe – as the basis for her work of shocking visual richness. Using a multimedia collage style with elements of digital techniques, video, performance, drawing and more, she creates a futurism rooted in research into the past – colonial heritage, bizarre history and more. For example, her multimedia installation FACT in Liverpool (until February 22), re-imagines the lost stories of that city’s Chinatown and its Chinese sailors. Allison is one of several other emerging artists involved in the decriminalized futures, the ICA’s upcoming exhibition on sex workers’ rights, in collaboration with the arts-social change collective Erika, and Flock, the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement.
Decriminalized Futures, ICA, February 15 to May 22, ica.art