It’s a distinct possibility that the quad at UCL was one of the most happening spots in London last Friday night. With Slade School of Fine Art inaugurating their BA/BFA degree shows, the place was hopping with a bar, barbecue and masses of cool looking people. But as much as I enjoyed my al fresco chicken wrap and eavesdropping on uni students — of course, secretly wishing I was still one of them — it’s no surprise that what I discovered inside Slade was the real treat of the evening.
Scrolling through my iPhone photos taken on the night, I still find myself excited by the work, thrilled at the quantity of talent seeping from within those studios and soon to be let out into the world. (Did I mention I cant wait?)
From creepy, sometimes even terrifying video work, to sumptuous paintings, media installations, a truly serene sculpture by Nancy Huang I really wish I could live in, and thought-provoking performance pieces (a particular favourite, by Juntae TJ Hwang, features students clad in army attire performing sexy dance moves amongst the columns of the main building), this show has a little bit of everything. And each little bit is great in its’ own way, which in turn makes for an exhilarating exhibition.
My own preferred artists of this year’s class are the painters, in particular, Jadé Fadojutimi and Leila Hesabi.
Leila’s work, though it definitely feels influenced by Cy Twombly, possesses a style all its’ own. The huge canvases, whether in muted tones, or bursting with bold colour, are works I can easily imagine on view in any major gallery, as well as hanging proudly on people’s walls. They emanate a sense of pulsing energy, the type of paintings that switch your brain on and quicken your pulse.
On the flip side of that there’s Jadé, whose work is blissfully calming. In fact, I can state with confidence that the top-floor studio that houses her paintings is the most peaceful spot in the exhibition. If I had to describe Jadé’s paintings in one word, it would be ‘dreamy’; the works transport you to a beautiful place, somewhere distant and new, yet absolutely comfortable, somewhere you never want to leave. My friend and colleague, Lauren Xandra, describes one of the pieces as “Monet’s waterlilies, but melted,” which really is quite spot on. I fell in love and four days later it’s still going strong.
I also marveled at the flawless technique of Jiani Fu and the stunning detail of Aryka Fyzee‘s paintings.
But don’t let my obsession with the painters fool you, this entire show is brimming with artistic vision and is, without a doubt, one not to be missed.
– India Irving
The Slade BA & BFA Degree Show is on view at Slade School of Fine Art until 28th May; University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT; Open Daily 10AM – 5PM; Admission: FREE