Work by the seven finalists created great excitement on the opening night at Saatchi Gallery last May. Nnena Kalu’s open, fluid sculpture, created in situ by the artist, revealed a rare ability to bring valuable sense and physical occasion out of apparently disposable material. Arriving out of a constant philosophical questioning, however, the intense use of paint and fine line by YAP, results in particularly contemplative iconography. Emma Selwyn performed an hilarious ‘lecture ‘on the night, her mimicry of the hazards and triumphs of live theatre was in turn also represented by filmed documentation of an earlier performance.
The relation between life lived, and work made, by artists with autism was never once over simplified or presented lightly . Peter Matthews’ lyrical drawings, for instance, which present vision, and diagram in relation to the sound and experience of being immersed in the sea over a long period of time, result in a moving mass of pictorial and conceptual information. Jessica Chowdhury’s straight forward inventive animated film brought with it a subtle and humorous narrative on the perils and isolation suffered by a sometime lonely character with autism. Virtuoso paintings by Dawnne Mc Geachy representing the full force of the sea, were hung in a way that ran against formal expectation to reflect the actual force of the tide. Charlotte Amelia Poe’s film ‘How to be Autistic’, a masterful, pared down, relation to Modern film, brought a painful personal account into the gallery, the ultimate liberation in the use of film by an isolated artist was able to explain, picture, and find.
The atmosphere was excellent; artists met other artists, members of the press interviewed artists, selectors, and curators alike. The occasion brought with it the promise of things to come. This year’s SPECTRUM Award will be different because the work will be different. The depth of feeling, however, relation to work itself; artistic , adversarial, and educative value can be seen and tested once more.
An exhibition that emerges out of selection from open submission is precious, because it fights the unspoken sense that all 'experts' agree on what constitutes quality
- Sacha Craddock June 2016