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The fifth Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition opens at York Art Gallery this month featuring the work of the sixteen shortlisted artists. Grace Hammond reports.

The work of some of today’s leading contemporary artists from around the world will be showcased in the fifth Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition which opens at York Art gallery later this month.

From individual narratives to global concerns, the artworks comment on today’s culture and explore themes such as globalisation, perceptions of space and alienation in the digital age.

The shortlist comprises sixteen artists from diverse countries including Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, the USA and the UK representing a range of media within the categories of Photographic & Digital Art; Painting, Drawing & Mixed Media; Three Dimensional Design & Sculpture and Video, Installation & Performance.

“The 2017 shortlist includes sixteen captivating projects that are relevant and innovative, responding to current issues and themes in our world today,” says Cherie Federico, director of Aesthetica. “Many of the artists are attending the Exhibition Private View and the exhibition talks programme at the Future Now Symposium giving visitors a unique opportunity to investigate their works further and explore current trends and developments in the art world and wider visual culture.”

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    Artists include Adam Basanta, selected for his installation Curtain (white). Basanta uses ready-made commercial technologies and communication devices, arranging these objects in ways which disrupt their economic functions and testing their potential as instruments of personal or mass communication. In Curtain (white), Basanta considers the ubiquitous white earbud headphone, an everyday device that creates an interior environment in which one can retreat from the external world.

    In photography, Judith Jones presents Rendezvous from her Twilight series. In this collection, Jones comments on the contrasts between private and public spaces. The “blue hour” of twilight travels through the transition between day and night. Documenting this fragile time frame presents a magical, filmic space that at once intrigues and fascinates, yet also evokes a lingering sense of fear.

    Shadowplay by Breaded Escalope is an interactive light installation, and the result of the artists’ experimentations with a certain type of void. By interacting with the state of darkness or “nothingness”, the artists discovered that the qualities of shadow are an actual material that can be manipulated and utilised, shifting into an emotionally affecting clock. The exhibition also features Stephen Johnston’s painting Limes in Jar. The artist’s recent ventures have focused on reinterpreting still life: food slowly decaying in glass jars, a bowl full of roadkill. These vivid images deal with the subject of mortality and reveal how Johnston sees all still life as a comment on death.

    Other shortlisted artists are: Adam Niklewicz, Alinka Echeverría, Dylan Martinez, Emmanuelle Moureaux, Jasmina Cibic, Julio Bittencourt, Lesley Hilling, Maryam Tafakory, Sara Morawetz, Stanza, Toby Dye and Webb-Ellis.

    Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, York Art Gallery, May 26-September 10. For details of the show and events programme, visit

    For opening times and admission details, visit