The British Council teams in Uzbekistan and Wider Europe collaborated with The Gallery of Art of Uzbekistan and British Council Visual Arts in the UK to present the first ever exhibition of contemporary British art in Uzbekistan. 

Entitled New Past - Contemporary Art from the UK, the exhibition brings together artworks from the British Council Collection and is a key part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the British Council in Uzbekistan. New Past is co-curated by Uzbek curator Gayane Umerova and Fay Blanchard, one of the curators from the British Council Visual Arts team based in London.

NEW PAST features 19 artists from the British Council Collection in a survey celebrating the breadth and energy of artistic practice in Britain over approximately the last two decades.  

The exhibition presents the work of the ‘YBAs’ or ‘Young British Artists’, including Damien Hirst, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gavin Turk and Sarah Lucas. The term ‘YBA’ was applied to a loose group of British artists who began to exhibit collectively in 1988 and became known for their openness to materials and forms, as well as their entrepreneurial attitude.

The exhibition features works by several winners and nominees of the Turner Prize - Britain’s leading visual arts prize - including Rachel Whiteread, Martin Creed, Martin Boyce, Cornelia Parker and George Shaw. Alongside these, NEW PAST introduces the next generation of artists to be celebrated in Britain, such as Hayley Tompkins, Marcus Coates, Simon Ling and Toby Ziegler. Their works are both visually and conceptually compelling, often incorporating figurative and painterly means.

NEW PAST explores how British artists are continuing the tradition of previous generations, while seeking to create art that is relevant to today by using new materials and looking afresh at subjects such as landscape, still life and the human body. The fast pace of this artistic development, alongside changes in other areas of contemporary life, has meant that some of these recently made pieces are now considered iconic.

Often using humour, the absurd and a vernacular language, the exhibited artists connect with the viewer through familiar imagery and materials, from chairs to medicine, hot water bottles to signage. Many of the works in NEW PAST refer to issues outside artistic practice, including nature and the consequences of human engagement with the natural world. Rather than making specific statements, NEW PAST aims to open a door to ways of looking at our past, present and future.