To accompany the exhibition Matter, abstractcritical held an afternoon symposium on Friday 4th November 2011.

Artists in the exhibition, Kate Liston and Mia Taylor joined Katie Pratt and Oliver Basciano to discuss the issues present in the exhibition, the idea of the contemporary abstract artwork and relevant ideas in their own practise.

None of the artists in the exhibition are deliberately abstract painters or sculptors- much of the work is between disciplines, and more ‘accidentally’ abstract due to its lack of external subject matter, and little (if at all) concerned with the more traditional discussions of colour and form in abstract art. Speakers discussed what a contemporary notion of the abstract is, and how artists today are finding relevance for their work within this context.

Much of the work in the show refers to the real world, either through site-specific installation, inclusion of non-abstract elements within the context of an ‘abstract’ piece, or by the particular emphasis on the material properties of the work. This removal of the abstract work from a non-literal world of form and colour, to a specific, current presence declares a desire by contemporary artists for relevance and authenticity, which is also reflected in the modest and at times- minimal appearance of the work in the exhibition.

Kate Liston is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art. She has completed a CIRCAworks residency with CIRCA Contemporary Art Projects at Stephenson Works in Newcastle, and a residency at the Red Mansion Foundation in Beijing.

Mia Taylor is a Teaching Fellow in Fine Art at Winchester School of Art. She has recently had a solo exhibition at tooma labzda gallery in New York, where she is represented.

Katie Pratt is a painter and lecturer, who is currently Head of Painting at Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London. She is a previous winner of the Jerwood Prize for Painting, and has had numerous solo exhibitions in London and Los Angeles.

Oliver Basciano is a writer, curator and Assistant Editor of ArtReview.

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