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London Twelve - City Gallery Prague

29 June - 23 September 2012
Gallery: City Gallery Prague

Current artistic practice in London is entirely diverse with no dominant school or group easily located or pinpointed. Awash with talent, it is constantly evolving and mutating. Advances in technology coupled with societal and cultural change, have expanded valid artistic territory opening new avenues for exploration. Concurrently, time-honoured areas of inquiry such as the treatment of nature and identity are given new twists, explored in both sublime and subversive contexts.

This exhibition does not aim to be representative of the London “art scene” as a whole, nor a survey of those at the top of the tree. It is a personal snapshot of the work of artists whose shows and studios I have visited over the last year.

London 12 is set in the historical confines of the exquisite ancient Stone Bell House, which both restricts and inspires the works chosen. Dating back to the mid 13th Century, this unique Gothic Town Palace is one of the most exquisite buildings in Prague. The Museum hosts exhibitions of contemporary and modern art as one of the three sites of the City Gallery of Prague.

London 12 juxtaposes generations, as well as established and emerging artists. The works are presented aesthetically in order to take advantage of the unique character and nature of the building. However, there are threads and themes that run through the show.

Many of the artists explore issues of identity and what it is to be British. London, as a cultural melting pot attracts artists from all over the world who filter its influence through the lens of their past experience. Other British born and based artists explore what it means to be such within a changing world.

Nature is historically a recurring artistic inspiration, although its influence has perhaps not been as heavily associated with contemporary art in recent times. Several of the artists investigate it within the context of their existence in the city environment offering different twists through assemblage, video, performance and painting.

Finally many of the artists in this exhibition are concerned with new ways to address abstraction. One thread is the interest in how colour, light and form in abstract painting create a pact with the viewer, whereby he or she interacts with the work through movement and the science of visual processing. Others create work that could only be made now with advances in technology and others refer to history aiming for timelessness or as a referential anchor.

Of course trying to categorise the artists in the show is full of opportunity for misrepresentation. Many artists involved would feel their work to be unfairly labelled within such categories. In the end the mandate is for a snap shot of London’s artistic practice and as such, like the city itself, thrives on its diversity.

Curated by Toby Clarke