BRITISH artist David Birkin has won the main prize in the 2018 Aesthetica Art Prize, held at York Art Gallery as an international showcase of innovative, contemporary artworks from the next generation of talent.

Electra Lyhne-Gold was awarded the Emerging Prize in the competition run by the York publication Aesthetica Magazine, whose exhibition featuring the 12 shortlisted finalists will be on show until September 30. Birkin was awarded £5,000 by sponsors Winsor & Newton; Lyhne-Gold received £1,000.

For this year's prize, artists were asked to respond to the changing landscape of society. "Selected from 4,500 submissions, and a longlist of 100 artists, the shortlisted works cover wide-ranging topics that delve into the human condition, posing questions about an increasing level of mass consumption, over-stimulation and emotional disconnection," says Aesthetica director Cherie Federico.

"These include new modes of communication and the depleting nature of analogue, a rise in technologies that are mimicking nature and the after-effects from the war on terror."

Highlighting the notion of representation, David Birkin’s winning work, Profiles, addresses the way that contemporary conflict is depicted. In collaboration with the NGO Iraq Body Count, the project includes photographic transparencies generated from identification numbers, questioning the values placed on humanity.

York Press:

The Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition at York Art Gallery

Looking at the relationship between spectacle and loss, at its core Profiles focuses on the representation of civilian casualties from the Iraq War and the paucity of such images.

Emerging Prize winner Electra Lyhne-Gold also considers the theme of representation in Lost In Translation, wherein the artist stages herself in surreal, fictional narratives, inhabiting invented personas or characters. Continuously exploring how the viewer interacts with the figure in the works, she uses humour to usurp capitalism while undermining advertisement culture through mimicry and imitation.

The other finalists now exhibiting at York Art Gallery are: Fabio Lattanzi Antinori; Jiayu Liu; Jukhee Kwon; Kenji Ouellet; Laura Woodward; Lisa Chang Lee; Noémi Varga; Peter Davis; Reginald Van de Velde and Shauna Frischkorn.

"The Aesthetica Art Prize is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world," says Cherie. "It offers both emerging and established artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience. Since its inception 11 years ago, the prize has supported a cornucopia of practitioners who have progressed their careers and furthered their involvement within the art world as a result of their exposure through the award.

"Finalists from previous years have been included in exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, FOAM and The Photographers’ Gallery, as well as winning awards from Magnum, nominations from BAFTA and exposure on Channel 4."

York Press:

Electra Lyhne-Gold's Lost In Translation, winner of the Aethetica Art Prize Emerging Prize

Every year, the prize becomes more ambitious, suggests Cherie. "The works submitted and selected are increasingly dynamic: they evoke a range of emotions from despair to hopefulness for a future world where society is more harmonious," she says. "It is an honour to view so many innovative pieces that chronicle the times in which we live.

"I am delighted that, through the Aesthetica Art Prize, we can focus our efforts on talent development and contribute to global dialogues. More than 4,500 works were submitted this year and the judging process was rigorous. Decisions were based on skill, originality and technical ability. Curating the exhibition of shortlisted artists was hugely rewarding; during the process, there was a constant reminder of how the modern world is affecting daily life.”

The judging panel included Amira Gad, exhibitions curator at the Serpentine Galleries; Ayo Adeyinka, director of TAFETA; Darren Pih, exhibitions and displays curator at Tate Liverpool; Laurence Sillars, head of exhibitions at the Henry Moore Institute, Maitreyi Maheshwari, programme director of the Zabludowicz Collection; Mike Stubbs, director of FACT; Reyahn King, chief executive of York Museums Trust; Steven Gartside, curator of the Holden Gallery, and Cherie Federico, director of Aesthetica.

Aesthetica’s accompanying publication, Future Now: 100 Contemporary Artists is on sale as part of the exhibition, featuring artists’ statements, images of the works and essays from leading art figures. In addition, a series of lunchtime talks by artists, curators and academics will be taking place throughout the exhibition’s run, developing ideas from the artworks and expanding on wider conversations within the industry.

Looking ahead, entries are open for the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize until August 31. For more information, go to

The 2018 Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition runs at York Art Gallery until September 30.