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Valuable Listed Artists At Brave - Our Top Eight

By Andy Shield

Valuable Listed Artists At Brave - Our Top Eight
Our current top eight most valuable artists and engravers based on the highest price each one has achieved for one of their works at auction. Underneath each, you’ll find a link to another work by that artist/engraver that’s currently for sale at Brave.

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Inverary Castle and Town Scotland [JMW Turner & Charles Turner]

By Andy Shield

Inverary Castle and Town Scotland [JMW Turner & Charles Turner]
JMW Turner (1775 - 1851) is widely considered to be one of the greatest landscape painters of all time. With an adroit expressionistic style, he seems to capture the very essence of the natural world.

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Introducing Jody Kelly

By Andy Shield

Introducing Jody Kelly
Ayrshire-based figurative artist, Jody Kelly, draws on references from popular culture to create images with the ethereal sheen of a David Hockney. His opening collection at Brave features six highly skilled acrylics that showcase two distinct sides of his repertoire.

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Introducing Tom Davies

By Andy Shield

Introducing Tom Davies
Emerging artist, Tom Davies, creates dramatic abstracts that explode into view, while also retaining their poise and elegance. These energetic works have received high praise nationally and critics have compared him to the celebrated abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock.

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Unlocking your inner weirdness with art

By Andy Shield

Unlocking your inner weirdness with art
London-based conceptual artist, Flo Awolaja, is looking to use the arts to help young people discover the essence of who they really are

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Chemical X: Silicone symbolism for an unshockable generation

By Andy Shield

Chemical X: Silicone symbolism for an unshockable generation

Clandestine creator, Chemical X, recently unveiled a photorealistic artwork depicting a cadaverous model jammed into an ocean of 7,000 ecstasy pills. With the “Spirit of Ecstasy” he’s thrusting the kitchen sink of shock at a post-Hirst generation — but is he preaching to the converted?

Back in 1596, when Caravaggio painted “Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy”, little did he know that 400 years on, the title would be interpreted quite so literally. In the Italian master’s depiction, the venerable Saint sinks into the arms of a judicious cherub having been bestowed with Sacred Wounds to his hands, feet and side. In Chemical X’s recent work, a deified model dangles through transparent silicone amid a smorgasbord of class A uppers.

The model, believed to be Cara Delevingne, sports an ethereal expression and a dazzling white outfit. With her arms outstretched and hands semi-clasped, her posture could be construed as a reference to the crucifixion. Granted, the religious symbolism is a little oblique, but when you contextualise this with Chemical X’s previous work, the metaphor begins to surface.

In 2014, he allegedly manufactured 20’000 pills to create two towering murals resembling stained-glass windows. Effervescent doves carried olive branches and jaunty suns beamed irrepressible acid house smiles. This, like all of his work, drew heavily on rave culture iconography to deliver a stinging concept synonymous with the Young British Art generation of the 1990s.

Under the influence of Hirst

There’s more than an ounce of Damien Hirst running throughout the “Spirit of Ecstasy”, which is no surprise given that the infamous Bristolian is likely to be a contemporary. For every one of Hirst’s spots, there’s a pill — for each shark, there’s a model.

And therein lies the problem.

Twenty years ago, contrary religious iconography would’ve hit home with aplomb. But since the drama of Hirst’s existential exploration, it’s been dampened.

What could’ve been a powerful reference to the deification of celebrity beauty has become little more than a bullmastiff with dentures. Religious symbolism has been so brutally distorted over the years that warped representations have since lost their gravitas.

Hirst’s dissection of religion seems to stem from a marked desire to fill life’s chasm with something other than art. Exhibitions, including Romance in the Age of Uncertainty (2003), New Religion (2006), Superstition (2007) and In the Darkest Hour There May be Light (2007), hurl contorted allegories in our general direction.

For The Age of Uncertainty, “The Apostles” featured twelve mirrored cabinets filled with unsettling props to represent the gory demise of each saint. Visitors involuntarily recoiled at the thick stench of blood, as haphazard scientific equipment stared blankly back from its archaic trappings.

On the floor in front, twelve further vitrines symbolised Christ and the disciples in the form of animal skulls in formaldehyde. Christ’s case remained empty aside from the preservative and Judas faced the wrong way with eyes bound. While, at the end of the room, a piece entitled “The Ascension of Jesus” involved a dove in flight over a white cabinet with empty shelving.

Through these macabre flasks, jars, dead animals and measuring tubes, Hirst smashes together religion, art and science in a deliberately conspicuous way. He welds the metaphysical to the materialistic — the celestial to the crass.

Describing his 2003 exhibition, he explained: “I’m more interested in religion filling a hole for people. That’s how I look at it now. There’s a hole there in people. In everybody. In me. A hole that needs filling, and religion fills it for some people. And art for others. I don’t think religion is the answer, but it helps.”

Perhaps with the Spirit of Ecstasy, Chemical X is going one step further by acknowledging that Generation Z is filling that God-shaped void with glamour and escapism. If so, then this photorealistic conceptual work is an apt statement for a shiny synthetic age.

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