J.P.A. – Jealous Prize Artists

Sometimes I wonder if nowadays art should be called contemporary.
Sure, will argue the most, because we are living through it. Not so sure, I would say. How comes the YBAs are ‘young’ British artists, even now that they are about to turn 50? Obviously it is for the fame reached as a group that such a brand-name is still used when referring to Emin, Hirst, Landy and so on. Even though this epithet has become too tight to some of them, like to an actor identified in a ‘role’ he does not want to play any more. For instance, in her past show at the Whitechapel Gallery, Sarah Lucas didn’t want to be referred at as one on the YBAs under any circumstances. The point is: shouldn’t we look for a New Young Generation? Reading articles and interviews, one thing that always comes up is a nostalgia for the self-initiative and daring attitude of dealers, artists and curators in the 80s-90s. Those were years when spaces in between museum and big commercial gallery proliferated, generating a huge flow of counter-cultures and innovative ‘movements’. Today this good habit seems to be dismissed. That is why I was pleasantly surprised by the short interview I had with Dario Illari, owner and director of the Jealous Gallery.

Teo Ormond-Skeaping Nicola Thomas, Jealous and Saatchi Gallery

Teo Ormond-Skeaping ‘Orbita Aeterna’ & Nicola Thomas ‘Lupe Velez’, Jealous Prize, Saatchi Gallery London

Jealous is a contemporary screen print studio, which every year awards MA Graduates from London leading colleges of art with an all expanses paid residency in the gallery studio. Graduates are so given the possibility to produce limited edition prints. “This is the 5th year this prize has been going on” says Illari “and from now onwards, our winning prints will be part of the V&A permanent collection”. 2014 is also signing the first experience with Saatchi Gallery, which had the winner on show last month.
Both, the Jealous gallery and the prize, are born “from passion” and the constant aim to work with youngsters. “We are a young studio, therefore we want to work with young artists. We want to stay with artists we find, foster them and grow together with them”.

Charlie Billingham & Mitra Saboury, Jealous and Saatchi Gallery

Charlie Billingham ‘Promenade’ & Mitra Saboury ‘Pothole’, Jealous Prize, Saatchi Gallery, London

Winners are not selected merely for “what is on the wall” says Illari “I go visiting MA final shows and when I find an artist I like, I consider him – or her – as whole, as a person, not just for his work”. That is also how he picked Nicola Thomas amongst the winners, to produce limited edition prints on site, the night of the opening at Saatchi. “She is a star. She appeared strong and full of personality since the very first time I’ve met her”.

Saatchi Gallery

Live printing at Saatchi Gallery, Jealous Prize, London

In the end, I recognize how this person is truly driven by passion. Print-making is sometimes undervalued and seen as a peripheral activity. Besides, the use of new technologies and tools, and the frequent intervention of a third party (e.g. print studios) in the print-making process, led to polemics around the authenticity of the copies, too often considered as mere ‘reproductions’, of none or poor value.
But I have to agree with Dario Illari that “prints have no original, what matters is the idea”. He tells me how funny it is when a wealthy client comes in, willing to buy THE original copy of a print, without understanding that there is none: each copy is an original. I cannot avoid laughing a bit by myself too, for the disappointed collector I pictured in my mind and for the fact that not just prints, but also a lot of other art, is not actually produced by the artist himself. Whatever comes in the middle, between the initial idea and the finished work, can be considered purely as a means to deliver the first at its best.

Sean Penlington, Jealous Gallery

Sean Pelington ‘Thir-gesture-teen’ being printed in the Jealous Gallery studio, London

Teo Ormond-Skeaping, Jealous Gallery

Teo Ormond-Skeaping printing his work in the Jealous Gallery studio, London

Recent graduates are given the chance to produce, at absolutely no cost, their first edition, have it shown in a big commercial gallery and being part of an established collection. Only requirement, a good dose of talent.
This initiative might seem to rely too much on bigger names of the art world, but is slowly becoming one itself. Passion and commitment are always prolific; we shall always put them to use in fostering the new, in all its originality.

Trevor Abbott, Charlie Billingham, Olivia Kemp, Teo Ormond-Skeaping, Sean Penlington, Mitra Saboury, Hwa Seon Yang, Nicola Thomas, winners of the Jealous Prize 2013/14, Jealous Gallery, London through 13th April 2014

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by Caterina Berardi
in Focus on Europe

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