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BALTIC Artists' Award 2017

Jose Dávila / Eric N. Mack / Toni Schmale / Shen Xin

30 June – 1 October 2017

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead is delighted to announce the four recipients of the BALTIC Artists’ Award 2017: Jose Dávila, Eric N. Mack, Toni Schmale and Shen Xin.

As recipients of the award, they will each receive a 13-week exhibition at BALTIC, now open on Level 3 and 4, £25,000 to create new work and a £5,000 artist fee. This major new international award is the first worldwide art award to be judged solely by artists.

Four of the most celebrated international contemporary artists - Monica Bonvicini, Mike Nelson, Pedro Cabrita Reis, and Lorna Simpson - have each selected an emerging artist whose work they strongly believe in. The four winning artists work across a diverse range of media. The exhibition will provide a vital opportunity for those selected to have their work seen by tens of thousands of visitors, to work with BALTIC’s curators and be supported by a high-profile artist.

Public visitors to this seminal exhibition of new works will be able to vote for the artists’ presentation they have the greatest connection to. This will inform an additional legacy commission project enabling a deeper engagement between one of the artists and local communities in Gateshead to be announced in autumn 2018.

Jose Dávila, (b. 1974, lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico) selected by Pedro Cabrita Reis. Influenced by Minimalism, American Conceptual Art, and Brazil’s Neo-concrete movement, Dávila’s artistic practice questions the inherent qualities of modern architecture and art throughout history. His sculptural work is based on the arrangement and overlapping of common construction materials such as boulders, glass, steel, concrete and marble, kept in perfect balance addressing the never-ending struggle against the force of gravity. In 2004 he completed a residency at Camden Arts Centre, supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation, and in 2016 he exhibited in the Frieze London Sculpture Park and was Artist Honoree of the Hirshhorn Museum. Pedro Cabrita Reis commented: "I like a lot of things about Jose Dávila’s work, but above all, I like the fact that he is an intelligent artist”

Eric N. Mack (b.1987 in Columbia, and lives and works in New York, USA) selected by Lorna Simpson. Fuelled by a love of fashion, form, and material, Mack fuses paint with readymade fabrics, structures of support and his own clothing. Often deconstructing and reconstructing fabrics, Mack quilts large-scale patchwork panels that blur the line between utility and style. He was included in Camden Art Centre’s 2016 exhibition ‘Making & Unmaking’ and in 2015 completed the Artist-in-Residency Program at The Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2017, he will take part in the Rauschenberg Residency, Florida. Lorna Simpson said: "It’s a beautiful opportunity for an up and coming artist with an amazing language."

Toni Schmale, (b. 1980 in Hamburg, Germany and lives and works in Vienna, Austria) selected by Monica Bonvicini. Schmale began her studies of Visual Art after her career as a professional athlete. The artist’s sculptures formulate a radical critique of existing social power relations and their stereotypical gender constructions. Her works look at the body as an individual and social carrier of desire and pain, adoration and overexertion, but also agony and torture. The duality of function and dysfunction is also an important aspect of her machine-like objects. Schmale recently participated in the Moscow Biennale for Young Art, 2014. Monica Bonvicini said: “Toni Schmale's practice reflects a serious and engaged research into materials and ideas, a precise execution, and a willingness to look for dialogue via unexpected and unexplored paths.”

Shen Xin (b. 1990, Chengdu, China and lives and works in London, UK) selected by Mike Nelson. Graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2014, Shen’s practice engages with moving image and event through the scripted and the informative, examining the techniques and effects of how emotion, judgment, and ethic circulate through individual and collective subjects. By focusing on interpersonal complexity and political narratives, her films often aim to generate reflexiveness to dismantle dominant power structures. Recent presentations include Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2016, and ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries’, ICA, London, 2014.

Mike Nelson commented: With the work of Shen Xin I was immediately intrigued and wrong footed - it dealt with subjects and ideologies that I knew very little of, coercing my interest and understanding. It also felt like the right time for her as an artist based in Britain but with limited exposure here. She’s now at a point I recognise, where so many ideas are coming through that there’s not enough space to contain them - in regard to BALTIC I hope I’m right."