Jennifer Cavanagh: Notting Hill Editor
In a departure from inaugural exhibit “The Architects” which introduced resurgent work by established artists Atom Rooms has chosen to debut three emerging photographers. “The Young Satellites” showcases the photography of promising artists Conor Williams, Lydia Roberts and Jack Davison – for each their first exhibit – alongside the work of mentor and curator Brett Walker.
The private view - only the gallery’s second - was less raucous than September’s opening yet buzzing throughout the night with artists, collectors, aficionados and of course those PV darlings that invariably turn up for the free bar. Wisely, Atom Rooms chose to make drinks “by request” meaning those wanting to view the work were able to do so with ease.
The successful decision to display the photographs anonymously ensured each image was viewed equitably rather than risking that the audience be swayed to preference by name. Having mentored closely with the three perhaps Walker felt a weaker collaborator’s work might be dismissed – I certainly had my favourites.
The black & white images are hung throughout the front room of the gallery seemingly without narrative. After several brief circuits individual styles began to emerge and slowly the approach and technique of each photographer became distinct. It is a remarkable experience as a viewer to delineate an artist’s style without guidance or confirmation. The maturity of mentor Brett Walker was the first distinction, followed by the crystal clear focus of Williams’ eye, the introspection of Roberts and then the delightfully subtle exuberance emanating from the work of Davison. The latter proved a “slow-burn” but once ignited I was constantly drawn back to his work.
The age of the artists – 16, 17 and 19 - is telling in some images and though some are timeless others reflect a certain art house naivety. This observation is a caveated criticism as even the more sophomoric clichés are a truthful representation of the artists’ current phase and age – it’s like watching a reverse vapour trail where what is to come is vague and what will one day be simply the starting point of evolution is crystal clear. This trail hints at great things to come so with a price point between 180-250£ collectors may want to mark this exhibit in their diary.
As with previous exhibit “The Architects” –stunning work remains in the smaller rooms and is not to be missed – “The Young Satellites” is refreshing and challenging. Atom Rooms is proving to be a gallery willing to gamble on artists and audience; works are highly personal and curators insist the viewer engage to fully appreciate the talent. It’s a provocative and demanding platform and just the way many of us like our art.