Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition 2017

The fifth Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition – showcasing excellence in contemporary art – starts later this month.

Starting on May 26, the exhibition will run until September 10 at York Art Gallery.

A platform for innovation and originality, the presentation invites audiences to engage with captivating projects from some of today’s leading artists.

From individual narratives to global concerns, the artworks comment on contemporary culture and explore themes such as globalisation, perceptions of space and alienation in the digital age.

Adam Niklewicz, Rigorous

Diverse artists

The shortlist includes 16 artists hailing from diverse locations such as Austria, Brazil, the USA and the UK.

Utilising a range of media, they work within the categories of Photographic & Digital Art; Painting, Drawing & Mixed Media; Three Dimensional Design & Sculpture; and Video, Installation & Performance.

Adam Basanta presents his installation Curtain (white)Basanta considers the ubiquitous white earbud headphone, an everyday device creating an interior environment in which one can retreat from the external world. Within this personalised bubble, the headphones function as a visual ‘do not disturb’ sign. The work plays on this notion by producing a three-metre-long ‘curtain’ which sections the gallery space, both visually and sonically.

Judith Jones presents Rendezvous from her Twilight series. Jones examines the dialect between the outside and inside, commenting on the contrasts of private and public spaces. The ‘blue hour’ of twilight takes us through the transition between day and night, maintaining an uncanny sense of unease.

Shadowplay by breadedEscalope is an interactive light installation, the result of the artists’ experiments with a certain type of void. By interacting with the state of darkness or ‘nothingness’, the artists discovered the qualities of shadow are an actual material that can be manipulated and utilised, shifting into an emotionally affective clock with the viewer as the most essential component.

The exhibition also features Stephen Johnston’s painting Limes in Jar. The artist’s recent ventures have focused on reinterpreting still life: food slowly decaying in glass jars, burnt bottles, a bowl full of roadkill. These vivid images deal with the subject of mortality and reveal how Johnston sees all still life as a comment on death.

Other shortlisted artists are: Adam Niklewicz, Alinka Echeverría, Dylan Martinez, Emmanuelle Moureaux, Jasmina Cibic, Julio Bittencourt, Lesley Hilling, Maryam Tafakory, Sara Morawetz, Stanza, Toby Dye and Webb-Ellis.


Cherie Federico, director of Aesthetica, says: “The 2017 shortlist includes 16 captivating projects that are relevant and innovative, responding to current issues and themes in our world today.

“Many of the artists are attending the Exhibition Private View, exhibition talks programme at the Future Now Symposium giving visitors a unique opportunity to investigate their works further and explore current trends and developments in the art world and wider visual culture.”

The judging panel will be selecting the winners of the Main Prize and the Student Prize, announced at the Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition Private View on May 25.

The panel comprises influential art figures, including curators, directors and artists whose expertise span all media.

They are: Whitney Hintz, independent advisor and curator of the Hiscox Collection; Alistair Payne, head, School of Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art; Olivier Richon, photography lecturer, Royal College of Art; Reyahn King, chief executive, York Museums Trust; Jonathan Watkins, director, Ikon Gallery; Susanna Brown, curator of photographs, V&A; Rachel Ara, artist, Aesthetica Art Prize Winner 2016; Eleanor Clayton, curator, The Hepworth Wakefield; Cherie Federico, co-founder and managing director of Aesthetica.


Stephen Johnston, Limes in Jar

Future Now Symposium 2017

Tickets are now on sale for the Aesthetica Art Prize Future Now Symposium, a two-day conference on contemporary art and culture taking place from May 25 to 26 at York St John University.

This year, the event addresses how the arrival of the digital age has created an unprecedented feeling of alienation.

Communication has changed and we now rely on technology to interact. The sense that the public is merging with the domestic has also spread into a larger, blurred depiction of reality. Surveillance is becoming a prevalent and inescapable issue internationally.

Contemporary art is the mechanism enabling us to respond to this renewed understanding of living.

Topics include Curating for the 21st Century Audience; Sculpture Today: Dependent & Autonomous Objects; Innovation in the Making: Technology, Design & Digital; The Future of Art Journalism: A Panel Discussion, and Future of Photography: The Epic in the Everyday amongst others.

“After its successful inaugural edition, we are thrilled to be hosting the second Future Now Symposium this year,” says Cherie.

“A vast array of artists, curators, academics and art world professionals will lead talks, participate in panel discussions and offer artists great advice through Portfolio Reviews.

“The Symposium is about creating a place for practitioners to unite, share best practice and start new collaborations. These events are vital to stimulate discussion and generate new ideas in response to current trends.”

Ticket information:

A one-day pass (£24) permits access to up to four sessions on one day. A two-day pass (£36) permits access to up to four sessions on each day.

Advance booking is required for all sessions and special events. To book, visit:

Stanza, The Nemesis Machine

Other events

A group of shortlisted artists will be delivering a talk at York Art Gallery from 12.30pm on May 26, providing an opportunity to hear directly from leading practitioners working across the globe.

There will also be a chance to connect with Webb-Ellis who will be leading a talk about their work in film, video and performance on August 10 at York Art Gallery.

The special event Meet the Artists, which is part of the Future Now Symposium, is also a chance to connect with the shortlist and longlist. This event is free to attend with a symposium pass, however, booking is essential.

Exhibition details

Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, May 16 to September 10, York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EW. For more information on the exhibition and talks programme, visit

For opening times and admission details, visit

The Aesthetica Art Prize is supported by Spectrum Photographic.

Copy editing by Sheena Campbell.

Main image: Jasmina Cibic Tear Down and Rebuild