There’s an art movement that has been happening for over a decade, and now it finally has a name—Art Materialism. With so much of the art world enamored with digital tools and AI today, this movement is a refreshing celebration of physical art, the kind that’s made with unconventional materials. For years, we’ve viewed and heralded the works of artists at the forefront of this movement, including co-founder Ian Berry, who has been making amazing portraits, landscapes, and even three-dimensional rooms entirely out of denim. Now, the artist has rallied like-minded creatives and curated an exhibition of their unique work.
Each member of this ever-growing collective of international artists works with a material you wouldn’t normally associate with the form of art they create. For instance, Christian Faur works primarily with crayons, but he doesn’t use the waxy art supplies for drawing. Instead, he lays them atop one another, each row balancing the one above it in a color-coded sequence. The body of each full crayon serves as a “pixel” of color. It is a modern, three-dimensional form of art that marries sculpture and Pointillism.
Whether it’s Faur and his meticulously stacked crayons forming his “visual poems” of photorealistic faces, Max Zorn and his film noir-esque scenes painstakingly presented through layers of packing tape, or Benjamin Shine and his ethereal portraits made of carefully draped tulle, there’s only one commonality—the unorthodox use of materials. Despite their varied subjects and mediums, they all have a curiosity that materializes through their desire to experiment and create with their unexpected substance of choice.
Over the years, these artists, sculptors, designers, and makers have all crossed paths with one another at different events.“We would meet one another at Art Fairs around the world,” Berry explains, “and I found I was always drawn to artists who had created works out of materials no one had attempted to use before. We all had to teach ourselves a way of using it. We wanted to bring these artists together as it’s important for artists to support one another and to be part of something bigger. Being an artist is often so solitary especially with our time-consuming detailed work so it’s important to be with like-minded people.”
Now, the fist nine artists of Art Materialism—Ian Berry, Benjamin Shine, Christian Faur, David Wightman, Justin Ruby, Lill O. Sjöberg, Matt Small, Max Zorn, and Peter Combe—are featuring their work in an exhibition at Catto Gallery. Materials used include denim, packing tape, sneakers, car upholstery, scrap metal, wallpaper, tulle, crayons, and paint swatches.
To see these artists’ work in person, the exhibition, aptly and simply titled Art Materialism, is currently showing at Catto Gallery in London through November 6, 2023.