The first in this series of exhibitions is New Order: British Art Today, featuring 17 young artists based in the UK. The work of this new generation of artists offers an arresting insight into the nature of Britain today: somewhat nebulous in its identity, somewhat uncertain of itself, recent spikes of national cohesion – the 2011 royal wedding, the 2012 Olympics – are blasts of pageantry, quickly silenced, sometimes soured. The symbols of national identity seem more and more inarticulate and dislocated from the experience of actually living here.
The artists are not an evidently coherent group, but if there is a collective spirit in many of the works in the exhibition, it’s in their interest in addressing the vast abundance of imagery which we are all increasingly surrounded by in the 21st century. As the series of exhibitions continues, a clearer understanding may emerge of a distinct new direction.
The exhibition includes sculptural forms that owe a debt to American minimalism, paintings that mine British caricature from the 18th century, the iconography of earthly power (kings and politicians), everyday elements from ordinary life (tattoos, underpants, banana skins), industrial materials as well as traditional oil paint and gouache.