The shortlist for the John Moores Art Prize, one of Britain’s most important awards has been announced at a luncheon held on the press view day of the Liverpool Biennial. Rae Hicks, Juliette Losq, Mandy Payne, Alessandro Raho and Rose Wylie will now compete for the £25,000 first prize, sponsored by David M Robinson to be announced on 19 September 2014.
A featured event during the Biennial, the John Moores Painting Prize runs from 5 July to 30 November 2014. Fifty paintings (including the prizewinners) have been selected for exhibition from more than 2,500 entries. The prizewinning works represent the nature of the John Moores to seek out the most outstanding in contemporary painting and do not conform to any particular style or theme. First held in 1957, the John Moores Painting Prize is the UK’s best-known painting competition and is named after Sir John Moores (1896 – 1993), the founder of the prize. The competition culminates in an exhibition held at the Walker Art Gallery every two years, which forms a key strand of the Liverpool Biennial.
The John Moores exhibition is held in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, and although the appearance of each exhibition changes, the principles remain constant: to support artists and to bring to Liverpool the best contemporary painting from across the UK. Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries said: “The quality of painting in this year’s exhibition is very exciting. We are delighted to have such a strong exhibition of 50 works which reflect the climate of contemporary British painting. Among them the judges have selected five worthy works which will challenge, delight and intrigue visitors.”
Paintings vary this year with only their medium in common: • Sometimes I Forget That You’re Gone by Rae Hicks, a recent graduate of Goldsmiths (2012) and the youngest prizewinner (b.1988). An intriguing painting where the ‘props’ of the scene appear unassembled and awaiting their final destination. • Vinculum by Juliette Losq, winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2005. The large-scale image belies the traditional understated nature of watercolour. Built up through multiple layers the painting creates an optical illusion which immerses the viewer into its world. • Brutal by Mandy Payne is spray painted directly onto concrete. An almost symmetrical scene from Sheffield’s Park Hill, a Grade II listed 1960s council estate, currently undergoing regeneration. Payne’s rendition of one of Britain’s largest examples of Brutalist architecture deals with the human memories and history indelibly weaved into it. • Jessica by Alessandro Raho, an artist with an international reputation. A painting of the artist’s stepsister against a plain white background is typical of the way that Raho uses family and friends as models, drawing upon personal relationships to create a parallel world within his work. • PV Windows and Floorboards by 80 year old artist Rose Wylie. The lively painting features four seemingly disconnected figures. Working from direct observation and memory, her work is informed by a fascination with film and current events. Rose had a BP Spotlight exhibition at Tate Britain in May 2013. Dubbed the ‘Oscars of the painting world’, the Prize, organised in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, has been keeping its finger on the pulse of contemporary painting for almost 60 years.
Past winners include David Hockney (1967), Mary Martin (1969), Peter Doig (1993) and most recently, Sarah Pickstone (2012). The 2014 judges are Tim Marlow, Director of Artistic Programmes at the Royal Academy and artists Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Zeng Fanzhi, Chantal Joffe and Tom Benson. Judge Tim Marlow said: “It’s for the visitors to make their own minds up about the state of contemporary painting in Britain but based on my experience of judging the John Moores this year I’d say it was quietly confident, expansive, hard-won, self-critical, vital and engaging.” Judge Lynette Yiadom-Boakye said: “What was wonderful was seeing the range of different approaches to painting. It was a shame to have to choose only five prize winners.”
“The John Moores is one of the most prestigious art competitions in the UK and winning the Junior Prize in 1961 is one of the achievements of which I am most proud.” – Sir Peter Blake
Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2014
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