#DegreeShowSpotlight: Show One at Central Saint Martins 2016

by Guest Writer

As spring turns into summer, university courses begin to draw to a close and exhibition season takes over. We're celebrating this exciting time of year by profiling Degree Shows from across the country on the Cass Art blog; speaking with artists and students to offer a sneak-peak behind the doors of the UK's art schools. We kick things off at Central Saint Martins, where student, Chloe Ting, offers her perspective on one of the first shows of the season...

Yuichiro Kikuma - Variations I, No. 1-3 & Variations II, No. 1-6 - acrylic on calico - various dimensions

The first of the Central Saint Martins 2016 Degree Shows was held between the 24th - 29th May at the university's Granary Building in Kings Cross. The exhibition spread across the entire ground floor and a number of the third floor studios, and on-show was a wide array of work from the BA Fine Art, MA Fine Art, MA Art & Science, and MA Photography courses. Exhibiting artists displayed a huge variety in aesthetic, context and technique, but amidst the chaotic atmosphere of bright colours, lights, noises, and textures, two works drew me in immediately with their subtlety; the muted and introspective paintings of Yuichiro Kikuma, and the subdued paraffin wax sculptures of Nicola Lorini.


A painter deeply aware of materiality, Yuichiro utilises a combination of gardening spray, acrylic paint and household heating devices to create deliberate but unexpected effects and imagery. Similar to that of a Polaroid photograph, where the image forms as a reaction to the exposure of light, the stains and faint hints of dripping acrylic paint in Yuichiro's work result from exposure to varying degrees of heat. The aesthetics and processes, and their similarities to photography, redefine the conditions for an artwork to be described as painting. It directs the conversation to the paint, which speaks silently in masses and colours, and presents itself as a cast made from heat movements directed by the painter.

Yuichiro Kikuma - Variations II, No. 1-6 (details) - acrylic on calico - various dimensions

"Painting has always been the medium to directly reflect the way things have been comprehended. Painting, I believe, is still one of the most effective mediums that enables us to question and explore the way we see things at a basic level.

I experimented with the drying process of the paint using water and heat for this particular series, so I naturally took advantage of the materiality of acrylic paint. My painting practice has shifted towards the process of how an image emerges through the interaction between medium, surface and all other physical elements that are involved in the making. How I position myself as a painter within the practice also became crucial. I am currently interested in a systematic approach to painting where the artist's role becomes passive, in order to allow process itself to create an image. My work also redirects the way viewers try to comprehend the image, particularly the uncertain state of encounter suspended between representational and abstract, physicality and illusion." - Yuichiro Kikuma

Nicola Lorini - Parallel Within (2) - paraffin wax, oil colour, wood, water from Morteratsch Glacier - 35 x 100 cm


Nicola works across a range of different media, with a particular interest in the relationship between space, object and image. The series on display at the exhibition was inspired by the natural formation of the Morteratsch Glaciers, and the metaphorical encounters of myths, legends and ethnographic narratives. The slow and organic process of mass formation, by the accumulation and compaction of snow, is mirrored through the process of creating a sculpture with paraffin wax. The crystallization of the wax sculptures involves a long process of melting, modifying, and solidifying; the structure and texture was naturally moulded using forces of water from the Morteratsch Glacier. As I walked further into the installation, I found three blocks of wax sculptures that form a protective layer over photographs. These photographs are taken by the artist, and are of etchings found on rocks at the glacier. The pictorial engravings on rocks are traces of human interaction at the glacier site, and are a testimony of collision between human and nature. Nicola’s work delivers both an abstract and concrete story, through a hazy preservation of anonymous markings and the natural yet methodical production of crystallized sculptures.

Nicola Lorini - Unitled 3 - Video (duration 01:08)

"I have an interest in hybrid coexistence of making and meaning. My practice finds its recurrent preoccupation in the empathic potential of images and in their poetic appearance. Paraffin wax is the same material applied to the bottom of snow runners to improve their coefficient of friction. I found it fascinating how it works as an invisible surface between human and landscape, in relation to the notion of friction. It’s also one of a few materials that I can reuse in a cyclic process, where old works can be translated into new ones and so on. I used to conceive single works as independent entities, somehow closed in their framework. I now see my practice as something more dynamic; it becomes difficult to define where a work begins and where it ends, and this has to do with a more conscious approach to the idea of research itself.

Despite the heterogeneity of the media I use, I see my work as a constant dialogue between sculptural and photographic elements. I like to work sculpturally within photography, and to use sculptural aspects to investigate photographic modes of operation. Working with found imagery, such as archives and ethnographic books, as well as within specific natural and cultural contexts, I create objects, photographs, videos and installations that aim to enact an archaeology of aesthetic and narrative elements. I’m particularly interested in how the visual and physical presence of the work opens up to conceptual and non-linear forms of interpretation. My recent research focuses on how to activate a viewer’s experience through a process of contemplation and observation, which lies between their encounter with the material existence of the work in a space, and the possibility of unveiling a narrative behind it." - Nicola Lorini

Nicola Lorini - Tribology (1), (2), (3) - paraffin wax, archival inkjet print on paper, oil paint - 20 x 27 cm

If you missed Show One at Central Saint Martins this year, there will be another chance to visit the university in 2016. Show Two, featuring exhibited works from 23 different courses, will be open for public viewing between 22nd - 26th June.

Article by Chloe Ting

Feeling Inspired?

Plan your visit to Show Two at Central Saint Martins 2016. 

Look at more incredible work from Yuichiro Kikuma and Nicola Lorini.

Contact students@cassart.co.uk if you would like to see your own university Degree Show featured in #DegreeShowSpotlight 2016.

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