02.08.11 Review of Alex Virji's work in 'Young London', Gabriel Coxhead, Timeout London, 20.06.11

Thirty-five artists, 92 works, 50,000 square feet of exhibition space in a cavernous former factory – practically everything about this show of emerging artists is grandiose. Apart, that is, from the works themselves, a good proportion of which seem to belong to the post-minimalist/anti-form revivalist movement that’s been gathering pace for a few years now. This tends to involve allowing materials to be themselves, while exploring their differing physical and poetic attributes – presumably as a sort of reaction against the bombastic, media-saturated excesses of previous generations of British art.

Certainly, there are some nice examples here: Vanessa Billy’s glass pane laid crisply atop a perfect bed of soil, or the shadowy, X-ray effects of Adam Thompson’s light-deflector panels. There are plenty of others, too, that individually would make interesting footnotes to what’s now a 50-year old art movement. Taken together, though, it all starts to seem slightly uninspired and facile: all those cracked slabs of marble or plasterboard, the baggy rolls of foam or shiny Mylar, the endless stacking and leaning and sagging and dripping… Hey, youngsters, we get it: different materials perform in different ways – enough already!

Other strands are more promising. There’s some fun painting – big, abstract, slappy stuff by Gabriel Hartley and small, fragmented retro graphics by Alex Virji – though it feels rather dwarfed by the magnitude of the venue itself. Not much video, which is a surprise – though Ed Atkins’s films, with their structuralist synchronicity of odd sounds and odder imagery, are compelling, if baffling. In the end, the best work is that which treads a line between object and image, such as Anthea Hamilton’s huge, hanging blinds with their slatted depictions of masculine figures – where you get a sense of cultural ideology, as opposed to mere materiality, being analysed and deconstructed.

Read the original article here.