UK CALLING: Interview With Amir Shariat

Earlier this year, Amir Shariat was interviewed by Maria Chiara Valacchi for Italian quarterly art magazine, ArteeCritica. Together with renowned curator Vincent Honore and fellow collector, Anita Zabludowicz and Valeria Napoleone, Amir discussed his thoughts on contemporary British artists and the current state of the British art scene following the Young British Artists scene from the late 1980s. The article is titled, UK CALLING and Amir Shariat’s interview has been translated below:

Amir Shariat, Collector, Curator and Art Consultant.

Maria Chiara ValacchiHow has the contemporary English art scene changed from YBA to now?

Amir Shariat: The current scene has become more global as tastes have become more global, which means that abstract art is very popular today. The period of the YBA had real superstars like Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin, and today probably the concept of the artist star befits most established names such as Glenn Brown.

MCVYou can talk about specific aspects or a DNA that marks a distinction between young British contemporary artists and artists of other countries?

AS: For starters, London and England have in principle excellent teachers both in the visual arts and in courses for curators. In addition, the British artists seem to have kept that cynicism that is often lacking in contemporary art. I think especially with artists like Eddie Peake, which addresses the issues of sexuality and the street language, but also to Dan Rees, who uses materials that children would use to paint, as clay and pebbles.

MCVWhere is it possible – right now – to find the best emerging art scene in the UK?

AS: Of course the most interesting young artists exhibiting in the galleries of the East End, as Jonathan Viner and Vilma Gold. The concept of the English artist changed radically since the German artist Wolfgang Tillmans won the Turner Prize in 2002, and subsequently Tomma Abts (German) and Laure Prouvost (French). London is a melting pot especially for the people involved in the creative industries. Actually Maureen Paley and Stephen Friedman who direct their eponymous galleries in the East End and Mayfair, are respectively American and Canadian. Institutions such Chisenhale Gallery, South London Gallery, Raven Row and Parasol Unit are equally important places where you can discover emerging artists or still little known.

MCVCan you indicate some of the most interesting British artists?

AS: I think some of the most exciting artists are actually those already mentioned, but also others that I follow a bit ‘of time: William Daniels, Brad Grievson, Nicolas Deshayes, Oliver Osborne, Phoebe Collings-James, Duncan MacAskill. The latter, to be honest, not a young artist, but even so its prices are reasonable, yet to be discovered, a diamond in the rough, I would say. Recently I visited his studio and was impressed by his intelligent production and measured. Other proponents of English art, such as Bob Law and Shelagh Wakely, whose works have been exhibited in museums, are still unknown to the public of contemporary art. Despite being in the sky, they dominate in the ground; Shelagh has had a major exhibition at Camden Arts Centre while Bob Law has exhibited 17 works at the Vienna Secession in a group show curated by Ugo Rondinone.