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Five things we learned from this year's Bloomberg New Contemporaries

The graduate showcase is always a reliable art trend barometer. Here's what we gleaned from the class of 2013

'Strength Through Joy', 2011, Matthias Tharang © the artist
Throw away your crystal ball. Selected from UK final year fine art undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as students who graduated in 2012, the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition is all you need to divine contemporary art’s destiny. Here are the trends we reckon will be Turner Prize-approved in a couple of years time.

1: Art will get swampy

If this bunch of forward-thinking artists is anything to go by, the days of high-tech wizardry are over. Step forward Dante Rendle Traynor, whose ‘Me and David Make Television’ features a videoscreen (showing scenes of lush nature) encased in a baroque swirl of primordial-looking gloop. Dirt fans will also dig Josephine Sowden’s film ‘The Lilies of the Field’, in which the artist paddles about on a beach, patting herself with foreshore gunk and cursing under her breath like an enraged Asaro Mud Man. Painters, too, are getting in on the act – and back to the medium’s mud-flinging roots. In small paintings like ‘Cake’, Archie Franks literally cakes it on, turning oil paint into an almost sculptural medium.

2: Underpants will be big

Frankly, this trend is so huge we hardly know where to start. From Jason Brown’s softwood sculpture ‘Trunks’, via the siblings in their skivvies featured in Joanna Piotrowska’s ‘FROWST’ series of photographs, to Tom Worsfold’s ‘Self-Portrait in Shower’ pin-up, the predominance of pants in this year’s show reveals an art world supremely comfortable with kit-off exposure: see also Adham Faramawy’s ‘Total Flex’ workout vid, whose star forgoes the formality of underwear altogether.

3: Mums will do the graft

Enterprising artists have always outsourced the boring business of manufacturing their work. Here, Hardeep Pandhal keeps it in the family by employing his mother to fashion barely recognisable celebrity-inspired knitwear like the ‘2Pac Jumper by Mum’ and ‘Bruce Parry Vest by Mum’ – both homespun highlights of the show

4: Shapes will be thrown

Giggling as they lob giant red balls and prance about a Swiss valley, the women in Matthias Tharang’s video ‘Strength Through Joy’ become unnervingly excited, their exuberance seemingly fuelled by something more sinister than simple pleasure. Dancing never looked so creepy. We’re on safer territory in Dominic Watson’s film ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, in which the artist struts Jagger-like to a soundtrack of ‘Start Me Up’ before Henry Moore’s iconic ‘Standing Figure’ (1950) in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park in Scotland. Alas there’s an added air of melancholy to this work – the sculpture was stolen from the park
last October.

5: Artists will attempt to disappear

In his performance video ‘Cave/Single Parent’, Patrick Cole sports a shirt and trousers combo that camouflages him against an identically patterned backdrop. Look closely at Ferdinand Saumarez Smith’s ‘Paradedolia’ monoprint and you’ll find a yeti-like figure standing in front of a holly bush. With a name like Saumarez Smith, art world anonymity is unlikely – his dad, Charles, is Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts. This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it aesthetic extends to minimal sculpture such as Thomas Aitchison’s accumulation of boxes and ceiling tiles (work in collaboration with Micha Eden Erdesz) and the aptly titled ‘Static, Dust, or Something, Possibly Nothing’ – a gloriously grainy abstract monoprint by Agnes Calf. Remember: you saw them here first. Or possibly not.

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