The UK Collection - Reception artworks

London

Tony Cragg, born 1949 in Liverpool, UK
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Secretions, 1998, Thermo plastic and fibreglass

Tony Cragg, the son of an electrical designer for aircraft, was the accepted leader of a group of artists who emerged at the very beginning of the eighties, called the New British Sculptors. He came to art through the unusual route of scientific training. Secretions is made of dice, but its subject explores the structure of the universe rather than the expected, gambling. The title refers to the act of transformation: old forms secreting to make the new order. ‘It will become necessary to find a language to describe the invisible, the inaudible, the unsmellable or the untouchable.’

 
Damien Hirst, born 1965 in Bristol, UK
Damien Hirst, born 1965 in Bristol, UK

Biotin-Maleimide, 1995, Household paint on canvas

Damien Hirst grew up in Leeds and studied at Goldsmiths College, London.  Most notable amongst the exhibitions he curated while at college was Freeze, 1988, in which he exhibited his work and that of his contemporaries. The exhibition is widely believed to have been the starting point of the Young British Artist (YBA) Movement, and a defining moment in kick-starting cutting edge British contemporary art. Biotin-Maleimide is one of Damien Hirst's renowned 'spot paintings'. The grid-like structure created by the spots is part of a system and in each of Hirst's spot paintings, no two colours are the same.

Anish Kapoor, born 1954 in Mumbai, India
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Turning the World Upside Down III, 1996, Stainless steel

Anish Kapoor’s art encourages questions about the origins of world. His recurrent theme of the void has made this clear. Turning the World Upside Down III, 1996 is like a great beached scientific model of the void and the world. The curved steel in the void of the sculpture reflects back on itself, doubling the image and turning everything upside down. It almost stands as a warning of the fragility of ideas.

 
Keith Tyson, born 1969 in Lancashire, UK
Keith Tyson, born 1969 in Lancashire, UK
12 Harmonics, 2011, Mixed media on aluminium

Keith Tyson’s twelve-part painting, 12 Harmonics, overflows with ideas, theories and other ways to explore the world. The Harmonics Theory formula is chalked out on the blackboard in panel nine, but that is only one among many keys to this polyptych. The artist does not believe in the exalted altarpiece positioning of art. Art is part of everyday reality. One learns from this picture as one learns from life. Click here to see the making of this work.
 

Birmingham

Raqs Media Collective, based in New Delhi, India
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The Arc of a Day, 2014, 13 clocks, high gloss aluminium with LED lights, gold paint

Raqs Media Collective is based in New Delhi and made up of three individuals: Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. The 12 clocks in the arc stand in for an hour of daylight on equilux (the day of the year when there is exactly 12 hours of daylight) representing different cities, whereas the 13th clock stands for the imaginary city, 'Rummidge', invented by Birmingham-based novelist and academic, David Lodge. With each of the numbers on the clock faces replaced by emotions, The Arc of a Day asks us to stand still for a moment in the middle of a busy, breathless day and consider our feelings about time.

 
Idris Khan, born 1978 in Walsall, UK
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A River Runs Happy, 2014, Oil based ink on gesso, slate and marble dust

A River Runs Happy looks like an abstracted blue starburst or an inverted cloud, but on closer inspection it is made up of a series of relatively short printed words, phrases and sentences: an amalgamation of the artists own words along with those of other inspirations such as painter Agnes Martin. Language can never be abstract, and so in using words as the building bricks of this work, Idris Khan emphasises the stumbling, awkward path to happiness.

 

Dublin

Felim Egan, born 1952 in Strabane, Ireland
Felim Egan, born 1952 in Strabane, Ireland

A Brighter Dawn I-III, 2014, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas

The key to the scale of Felim Egan’s abstract paintings is on his doorstep, on Dublin’s waterfronts. The small hand-drawn geometric shapes have a similar relationship to their backgrounds as figures on the beach. His highly pared-down abstraction has a very human feel to it. He taunts us with contradictions: teasing us with the subtlest harmonies of colours, proportions and mathematics and yet never denying the impossibility of pure thought, pure abstraction. There is grit in the very texture of his oil paintings, actually sand from the Strand. His paintings encourage us to soar with our minds, but they have a touch of the earth in them.

Jaki Irvine, born 1966 in Dublin, Ireland
Jaki Irvine, born 1966 in Dublin, Ireland

Shot in Mexico: On the Impossibility of Imagining the Numbers od Dead and Disappeared (Vertical), 2014, 20 framed archival pigment prints on wallpaper

Jaki Irvine was born in 1966 in Dublin and currently lives in Dublin and Mexico. Each year, vast colonies of monarch butterflies journey 4,000 km from Canada, to winter in the mountains near Angangueo, in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Passing through the United States, they are decimated by toxic crop sprays and other dangers. Through her work, Jaki Irvine comments on the environmental issues threatening these butterflies while also drawing parallels with the dangers faced by migrant workers that result in vast numbers of deaths as they make the hazardous journey through Mexico, from Latin America into the United States.

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Last Update: February 10, 2015
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