July 25, 2008

John Moores Painting Prize: Shortlist released

The shortlist for the John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize, the UK’s largest contemporary painting competition with a first prize of £25,000 and total fund of over £35,000, was announced yesterday. Artists Jake & Dinos Chapman, art critic Sacha Craddock, and artists Graham Crowley and Paul Morrison, both former John Moores Prize winners, are the judges. According to the Liverpool Museum's press release, the forty shortlisted entries "demonstrate that far from being ‘old-fashioned’, an artist’s decision to paint is exciting and challenging. The paintings have absorbed the legacy of conceptual art and incorporated it into the work; they are not in opposition to it. The works, selected from a record 3,222 submissions, represent the best of the UK’s current and future painting talent. Over the last 50 years, this biennial competition has given prominence to artists including David Hockney and Richard Hamilton, who went on to find fame and acclaim after winning the prize, and Peter Doig, who described winning the John Moores in 1993 as a pivotal moment in his career." Check out the online slideshow at The Guardian.

In his new art blog, Guardian critic Jonathan Jones moans that this year's shortlist is "another nail in the coffin of the greatest western art form. 'Mr Picasso - he dead' might be an alternative title for Tim Bailey's painting 'Cadet Congo Ganja,' supposedly inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, although I see no inspiration here at all. What I see in the shortlisted works is more of the same deadening irony, disbelief and smallness of mind that has reduced painting in modern Britain to a stale, repetitive, self-parodic eunuch. Our painters have become like pathetic courtiers of some Caligula-like despot. Video, photography etc so rule the idea of art in Britain now that, like desperate ministers trying to survive the tyrant's reign, painters cavort in clown masks, mocking themselves and their art. The result is the awful array of kitsch jokes and cod surrealism in today's John Moores shortlist." In the online Comments, plenty of readers respond. Snarky Swarf22, in response to Jones' swooning reference to Cy Twombly's work, would "love to see a return to the Abstract Expressionistic painting of the 1950's and 1960's. Let's put the male machismo on the agenda again, the problem with art today is that there are too many women artists! Cy Twombly is a good painter because he paints BIG and ejaculates all over the canvas!" Read more.

Here's the list:
1. Georgina Amos – No Place
2. Tim Bailey – Cadet Congo Ganja
3. Richard Baines – Mickey’s Trailer
4. Christopher Barrett – Pirosmani in Tbilisi
5. David Bowe – Obst & Gemuse
6. Julian Brain – Special Relativity
7. Tom Bull – Black Flag
8. Louisa Chambers – Mechanical Coat
9. Clare Chapman – Still Life, No. 2
10. Jake Clark – Cornerways
11. Sam Dargan – Middle Management Meltdown
12. Geraint Evans – An Ornamental Hermit
13. Damien Flood – Uncharted (Island II)
14. Grant Foster – Hero Worship
15. Jaime Gili – A132 (AKIKO)
16. Gabriel Hartley – Dog
17. Georgia Hayes – Oportuno 111
18. Gerard Hemsworth – Frightened Rabbit
19. Roland Hicks – Sometimes We Sense the Doubt Together
20. Ian Homerston – Four
21. Neal Jones – Bruegel Camp
22. Stephanie Kingston – 252 Solitude
23. Richard Kirwan – As Above, So Below
24. Mie Olise Kjærgaard РWatchtower with Green Stick
25. Matthew Usmar Lauder – Untitled (Hole)
26. Geoff Diego Litherland - My Flag is Better than Yours
27. Marta Marce – Flowing 2
28. Peter McDonald - Fontana
29. Michelle McKeown – C**t
30. Eleanor Moreton – Prince (titled)
31. Alex Gene Morrison – Black Bile
32. Kit Poulson – Nought Lovely but the Sky and Stars
33. Sista Pratesi – Black Farm II
34. Ged Quinn – There’s a House in My Ghost
35. Neil Rumming – The Baptism
36. Robert Rush – The Dream
37. Michael Stubbs – Virus Maximizer
38. Matthew Wood – S-CAT LRAB1
39. Stuart Pearson Wright – Woman Surprised by a Werewolf
40. Vicky Wright – Extraction 1

All shortlisted entries will be shown in a major exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from Sept. 20 through January 4. The winners will be announced on September 20.

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