Last week saw the opening of a new show at the Baltic in Gateshead celebrating the work of four fantastic emerging artists who’ve received the inaugural Baltic Artists’ Award. Each was given £25,000 to create new work for a 13-week exhibition and a £5,000 artist fee, with each winner nominated by a contemporary artist - Monica Bonvicini, Mike Nelson, Pedro Cabrita Reis, and Lorna Simpson.
While all the artists are making superbly striking and original work, we’re totally in love with Simpson’s choice of Eric N. Mack. The New York-based artist is desired as a painter, and delights in turning the discipline on its head through creating abstract installations that turn painterly traditions into powerful and playful and decidedly unexpected interventions.
His works are formed from a melange of blankets collaged with found fragments of magazines, paper, textiles and worn clothes. According to the gallery, his use of quilted moving blankets, that are "used to project objects in transit", reference ideas around domesticity that hint at the nomadic nature of his life as an artist.
While his pieces engender a certain performativity, there’s also a rigorous structure to them that creates a dialogue between the still and the restless, giving the work a dynamic touch that reveals new meanings from every angle. "The work is invested in discovery and witness in experiencing painting as object," says Mack. "My paintings privilege content that operates in the world rather than in self-reference; objects that seek audaciously an outside gesture."
Mack’s work is on show alongside that of the other three winners, Toni Schmale, Shen Xin, and Jose Dávila at the Baltic until 1 October 2017.