Space Age is the title of the new exhibition at London's Hus Gallery and features four young emerging artists - Nathan Green from Texas, Ophelia Finke from Frankfurt, Germany, Santiago Taccetti, an Argentine based in Berlin, and Konrad Wyrebek from Poland.
The theme is based on the Italian artist Lucio Fontana's description of Spatialism which called for artists to expand their work into the third dimension and away from the illusory space of conventional painting. He encouraged the use of new technologies to create "art for the space age".
Wyrebek offers the best example of this with a curious sculpture entitled Amour and Psyche (above) in which he has borrowed a Canova cast from the Louvre.
Using cutting-edge (literally) digital technology, he has fashioned, using CNC (a computer-controlled 3D cutting machine), a plaster sculpture of beautiful figures that he has distorted in the way images are photoshopped in modern two-dimensional media.
"It's about our obsession with beauty but a beauty that's not natural but deformed," he tells me.
Echoing this distortion, Wyrebek has also reproduced pixilated date errors familiar in computers and broadcasts as images that he has enhanced and printed, once again highlighting the artificiality of "ideals of perfection".
Nathan Green is, in his words, "trying to expand painting into three dimensions, to take it off the canvas, to create objects that talk the language of painting". His The Heavens, the Earth, The Sea (above) was inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's painting Sky Above the Clouds.
The objects are cut from wood, painted with expanding foam, covered in papier mache before being coated with an artex plaster that gives them a rough sheen.
"I'm essentially making these forms that are trying to relate to a cloud but out of a clunky material that relates to earth or rock or dirt and it's painted in a way that looks like you're looking a great distance but the colours I've chosen all relate to the water, all aqua,...it's like the sky, the earth, the water smashed together in this weird thing that's acting like a picture."
Santiago Taccetti spent a lot of time visiting construction sites in Berlin looking for suitable rubble for his rock sculptures. They are based on this convergence of everyday materials and artistic creations.
Untitled (above) features enamel on granite sprayed with reactive and reflective paint in different colours to create a grading pattern and shadow. Taccetti is also interested in trends of ambiguity in the way people view and react to art. His sculptures are sometimes seated on chairs for example.
He also holds a fascination not only with the way people react but also with the unpredictable reaction of different materials. His large white paintings Untilted I and II are created by pressing thick layers of paint from the back of the canvas creating an imprinted pattern and textures on the surface of the work. The thick layers of paint remain hidden on the reverse with the result that the work ends up looking like embossed wallpaper.
Ophelia Finke's window installation (above) is literally from the Space Age. It features two astronauts floating in space represented by coats that resemble space suits. The wooden signs represent shooting stars, part of an abstract universe.
The coats are a recurring motif in Finke's work. Inspired by the influential German artist Joseph Beuy's felt suit, they represent protection. "My installations are about adventure, exploration and discovering new worlds," she says.
In that way, she has explored unknown territory as an artist, having made previous large-scale installations on the Paris-Dakar rally, and on the game of cricket. "I haven't been in the race, I haven't been in space and I've never played cricket," she admits with pride. Explaining the rules of the latter would doubtless make understanding Spatialist dialectic a walk in the park.
Space Age runs at the Hus Gallery, 10 Hanover Street, London W1S 1YQ until 11 October. All images are used courtesy of Hus Gallery and the artists.Suggest a correction