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DATE: 23 Feb 2023

The Aesthetica Art Prize 2023 exhibition brings together 21 talented artists in a show that offers creativity as a form of expression, with projects spanning the boundaries of genre – from painting, photography and sculpture to installation, mixed-media and video. These works survey the ethics of representation, mass digitisation, globalisation, diaspora and the fragility of our planet.

This year’s shortlist of international artists takes the temperature of today’s world and offers a new set of solutions as a tonic to life in the 21st century. For example, Lavinia Keller’s NFMe discloses the invisible impact of technology with a sensitivity that invites viewers to rethink ownership and identity. Her work sits between analogue and digital spaces. It is dedicated to capturing the audience’s emotions, which outlast the rapid pace of contemporary media culture.

Larry Achiampong’s Wayfinder dissects ideas surrounding class, gender, cross-cultural and digital identity. The film examines his communal and personal heritage – in particular, the intersection between popular culture and the residues of colonialism. These investigations survey constructions of “the self” through the activity of splicing the audible and visual materials of personal and interpersonal archives, offering multiple perspectives that reveal the deeply entrenched inequalities in society.

Elsewhere Becky Probert uses the camera as a conduit to question the vastness of outer space. Invisible Planets was created through a close-up photographic exploration of details and patterns within the immediate environment. This is reflective of the way that the particles and patterns that make up the cosmos are echoed between the smallest and largest scales.

For the first time the exhibition will also incorporate part of the Artist’s Garden behind York Art Gallery with The Red Bags (2022) by Scotland-based artist Bea Last. The eye-catching installation is both a reaction to and a statement of issues affecting society at large, such as war, displacement and the climate crisis. There is a contrast between the fragility and strength, asking – what does it mean to be human.

Cherie Federico, Director of the Art Prize, notes: ” Art is a way to convene and make sense of the here and now at this critical juncture in history. The impact that art has on society is profound. It’s transformational and invites conversations that challenge the status-quo. Art offers hope and solutions to problems that are bigger than any one individual or country. The artists in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2023 demonstrate the power of art to present reality and question how the past is remembered. I am thrilled to bring you this year’s nominees.”

Morgan Feely, Senior Curator of York Art Gallery, says: “The Aesthetica Art Prize will bring together a range of exciting art at York Art Gallery. The themes covered within the exhibition are complex, thought-provoking and inspiring. We look forward to welcoming visitors to see for themselves the huge range of talent in this show.”

The Aesthetica Art Prize is an annual platform for the world’s best artists. The award’s alumni continue to demonstrate excellence across the globe, from residencies and renowned awards to publications and must-see exhibitions. Their work has been shown at major international institutions, include Centre Pompidou, Foam Amsterdam, MOMA PS1, Tate Modern and V&A. They have won, or been nominated for a range of prestigious awards, including the Jarman Award, John Moore’s Painting Prize, Sony World Photography Awards and Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Collectively, they have achieved publication and further recognition in Frieze, Art Review, The Guardian, The New Times and Vice. Most recently, shortlisted artist Jenn Nkiru won a Grammy, Terrance Musekiwa has exhibited at the 2022 Venice Biennale, and Reuben Wu was commissioned for the cover of National Geographic.

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition runs between 24 March and 4 June 2023 at York Art Gallery and is a testament to shared creativity in a time of rapid change. Entry to the exhibition is free and can be booked in advance on the York Art Gallery website.

The Aesthetica Art Prize Main Prize and Emerging Prize winners will be announced on 23 March 2023.

Aesthetica and York Museums Trust have been working in partnership for 11 years to deliver the Aesthetica Art Prize as part of their annual programme.

To learn more about the 2023 Aesthetica Art Prize, click here.