This week, Avenir Magazine presented the inaugural Avenir Charity Art Auction in partnership with iconic auction house Sotheby’s. Avenir is a contemporary arts and culture magazine with a sole focus and commitment to providing a strong platform for emerging artists. Tucked away in the heart of Soho at The Groncho Members Club, the exhibition was curated by publisher Vanessa Power and renowned art dealer Marine Tanguy. The auction aims to raise funds for the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, a charity that enables people from poorer backgrounds to access arts education. The opportunity to sell their work on such an established stage gives vital exposure to the young artists involved. In short, it’s a win-win situation.
For emerging artists – particularly in London – it is easy to feel as though you are a small fish struggling against the tide in a vast ocean. If you don’t know where to go, or who to approach about your work then things can be tough. It is difficult to find motivation to make art when you feel like your parents are the only people following your artistic career. Choosing to be an artist is a risk that can be expensive, and being connected with a network of like-minded people is essential. If creativity is not nurtured and protected then it will only be available to the privileged among us. Artistic people will move to other cities and London will suffer as a result. This is not to say that Avenir only provides support for London based artists, but as the cost of living spirals out of control, those from the capital are likely to benefit the most.
After arriving at the auction, we were treated to a personal tour of the exhibition by curator Marine Tanguy. Describing how Avenir provides a sense of security for young artists she explains, “This exhibition is new way to auction emerging art. There is less risk for the artists because it is private, which allows them to build their confidence.” Continuing, “Many of the artists in the show are still experimenting, and we encourage them to try as many media as possible, which is reflected here today.”
Marine was not wrong when she described the huge variety of work on display, as each artist has a completely different style. A highlight of the show was Tristan Pigott, whose painstaking works mock the narcissism that is typically associated with portraiture. A Couple features unsettling colours and shadows that give an insight into a relationship that has gone sour. Roughness is contrasted with smoothness to further develop this tense narrative. Spilled yoghurt pots and juice drinks add to the humour of the piece, and modern touches such as phones and bins ensure that Piggot’s traditional style remains contemporary. With his work being featured in the BP Portrait Awards 2015 and The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, he is definitely one to watch. Sang Woo Kim takes us back to basics by exploring the core relationships between surface, colour and shape. These confident pieces have a dryness to them that contrasts with the other works on show.
In terms of sculpture, Scarlett Bowman’s PE12 makes us question our perception of softness and heaviness. Subtle tones of green and pink interact with endless creases and folds, making us think of nature despite the fact that the piece is totally man-made.
The auction was undoubtedly a huge success, raising thousands of pounds for the Jerwood Foundation so that others can pursue a career in the creative world. We eagerly anticipate Avenir’s upcoming projects – including an exhibition in Nigeria – and look forward to seeing more work from this exciting group of young artists.
Words / Louis Staples