These young London artists will convince you to buy art again

The British art market, reeling from a post-Brexit weakened pound, global economic uncertainty and a universal downturn in consumption of luxury goods, has been hurting. The UK’s biggest galleries are reporting sluggish sales, reduced interest from buyers and frustration and anxiety among its artists. Art buyers, it seems, have lost their spark.

But a handful of young creatives in London are determined to turn the tide. They are multilingual, multicultural, and like the genre-hopping canvases they produce, they refuse to let past conceptions of identity define their art. Taken as a whole, this new generation’s work represents art for the digital age—jumping across mediums, refusing constraints or preconceptions, but always looking back at history with awe and respect.

If you’re itching to be inspired by young artists in London, look no further than these five:


Rhys Coren

A graduate of Royal Academy’s Class of 2016, Coren is a mixed media master who works in animation, poetry and painting. His work merges imagery and text in exciting, often subversive ways.

Recent London exhibitions: Seventeen; Jerwood Project Space; Horatio Jr., and SPACE.


Zadie Xa

A native of Vancouver with family roots in Korea and a current homestead in London, Xa’s work is a colour-drenched revelation of life in the Asian diaspora, expressions of otherness and the complicated notion of the individual in an industrialised world.

Upcoming London solo exhibition: Pump House (at Battersea Park), Aug 3–Sept 24. Recent exhibitions: Saturdays Live at Serpentine Gardens, London; Hales Gallery, London.


Nathan James

An amoeba as much as he is an artist, James prides himself on having no “signature style,” with his work morphing in and out of periods and styles much like a modern Picasso. From cartoon to abstract to hyper-real, James’ work covers it all.

Recent exhibitions: ‘Creepshow’ at the Cob Gallery, London; Corey Helford Gallery, Los Angeles.


Emma Bennett

Seeped in nostalgia and rich in detail, Bennett’s paintings harken back to the height of Renaissance rococo, with exquisite depictions of life’s discarded little luxuries—flowers, fabric clippings, and even a fine soap wrapper—jumping out like gems from inky black canvases.

Recent exhibitions: “100 Painters of Tomorrow” at Beers Contemporary, London; “Black Paintings” at Charlie Smith London; “New Painting from London” at Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt.


Zhu Tian

Chinese born, London-based artist Tian is a recent graduate of the MA Sculpture course at the Royal College of Art. Like her contemporaries, Tian refuses to be boxed into a single medium, working across sculpture, painting and even to performance art in her London studio. Her work, she says, is a visceral to an automated, digitised society that needs to be gently shocked out of its slumber with both humour and provocation.

Recent exhibitions: V&A Museum, London; UK and Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Related Posts