Jesse Darling is the Turner Prize contender who turns human frailty into power objects

2 min read  ·  24 May 2023

Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians (2016). Copyright the artist. Courtesy of Arcadia Missa

Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians (2016). Copyright the artist. Courtesy of Arcadia Missa

The British artist Jesse Darling is on the HEN News radar after he was shortlisted for the prestigious Turner Prize.

The artist's HENI Score—a unique artist sentiment index—increased by a spectacular 186% after the announcement and Darling's two solo museum shows in the UK.

Darling, who is based in London and Berlin, was also among the artists whose work was included in the Palais de Tokyo's 2023 exhibition “Exposé·es,” which explored the impact of HIV/Aids on artists in the 1980s and the long shadow cast by the epidemic. The group show in the prestigious contemporary art space in Paris underlined curators’ growing interest in the artist-poet's idiosyncratic sculptures and assemblages, which typically refer to the human condition.

The artist filled two vitrines with scavenged remains of works by the Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who died of HIV/Aids, for his work shown in the Palais de Tokyo.

Darling's works have been regularly presented at Frieze and Art Basel art fairs by his galleries. The artist is shown by Sultana of Paris, Arcadia Missa of London and Chapter NY. The artist's works are largely untested so far at auction but on the primary market prices have ranged from around $3,000 to $20,000.

A signature work, March of the Valedictorians (2016), which was shown at the Venice Biennale’s main exhibition in 2019, is an assemblage of plastic stacking chairs that stand on tall, gangly steel legs.

Darling spoke to Art Review about his interest in human frailty on the occasion of the artist's two solo museum shows in 2022 at Modern Art Oxford and London's Camden Arts Centre respectively. “Everyone is failing and dying and fucking up. Everything is, everything will. Nothing is going to last or get out of here alive. There’s no pure place, there’s no utopia, there’s no time in the past or the future when everything is just beautiful. It doesn’t exist,” Darling said.

The intertwining of art, the body and politics in Darling's work, typically created from scavenged materials and repurposed everyday objects, resonates with the zeitgeist of a world grappling with the aftermath the COVID-19 pandemic, wrote The Guardian, when the Turner prize nomination was announced. The Telegraph raised the possibility of the prize having its first trans winner come the fall when the award is presented.

To get a deeper understanding of Jesse Darling’s career visit his HENI Dashboard; a unique graphical data tool illustrating an artist’s auction sales, shows, profiles, mentions and their HENI Score. You can search for any one of the 100,000 Artist Dashboards to quickly appreciate their trajectory as well as sharing via email, text and WhatsApp.