When deadlines arrive for the this John Moores painting prize I thought we would take a look back at the last 2014 winners of the biennial competition:
Here come the Girls
The John Moores Painting Prize 2014 was the year the Girls brought it home for Contemporary British Painting. Held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool the prize had over two and a half thousand entries. These are whittled down to fifty paintings to be hung at the exhibition, five Prize Winners and one overall Winner. Previous winners included David Hockney with ‘Peter getting out of the Pool’. For those who say painting is dead, the John Moores Painting prize says it’s very much alive. The Prize attracts everybody from recent graduates to seasoned creative professionals. This year, 2014, was the year the Girls stood up and were counted.
Brutal depicts the Park Hill Estate in Sheffield, a prime example of Brutalist architecture. This movement flourished in the 1950’s to the 1970’s the predecessor to the Modernist Architecture Movement lead by Le Corbusier. Its fortress-like institutions are conman for low-cost
housing, shopping centres and government buildings. Its structures expressing strength, functionality and materiality: the use of exposed concrete. The concept of ‘Streets in the sky’, repeated modular elements, functional zones articulated together to form a whole. Not all are lovers of Brutal-ism, Prince Charles once describing the movement as ‘Piles of Concrete. The Philosophical totalitarianism, the concept of equal space or cold hearted, inhuman, hideous and monstrous in others eyes. By the 1980’s the movement was dead, concrete of the structures was now sandblasted or covered in stucco or pre-cast elements. The Park Hill Estate in Sheffield has been grade II listed, the largest of it’s kind in Europe. Currently being renovated by Urban splash. The first 2 decades for the Park hill Estate represented ideal living, to some extent, but went into decline in the Eighties after the steel industry crash hit Sheffield. The English Heritage and Urban Splash redevelopment has led to one great visual, the former graffiti tag, ‘I love U will you marry me’ across one of the walk-ways has been replaced in neon.
However ‘Brutal’ does not take on the new part of the Estate, Payne focusses on the original housing units, the one’s which are still occupied. This part is habituated by at least ten families, those which do not want to be re-housed. In her paintings there is a lack of people in terms of depiction, however their presence, or former presence, is indicated through the boarded up windows and other traces of human existence. She has painted the estate for over two years, exploring different viewpoints. Using drawing in situ and photography as a start point she develops images, exploring new processes on the artistic journey.
Using aerosol, adding concrete to the paint and using concrete as a substitute to work directly onto in the case of ‘Brutal’.
Newer depictions of the Estate are also on concrete but smaller in form, using casting onto acetate to form a smooth almost glass like surface. They are encased in small wood based square frames, almost modular like the architecture they depict.
Mandy Payne did not take a conventional route to becoming a professional artist. She thought about Arts education and becoming an Architect when she was making degree choices, but due to pressure from her parents decided to take the route of Dentistry. Working as a Paediatric Dentist for 25 years she continued with art practise on a part time basis taking many evening courses. However she decided that she wanted a formal qualification in Art and went onto the BA Fine Art Course at Nottingham University. ‘Brutal’ was part of her final works for the BA degree show. In the 2 years from graduating she has has works in over fourteen exhibitions and has been nominated as a Prize Winner for the 2014 John Moores show. She views being nominated for the price as a validation that she is now a professional artist, someone to be taken seriously.
An all male artist, but a all female subject: Jessica. Alessandr Raho was born in the Bahamas to an English Mother and an Italian Father. Spending the initial most formative years of his childhood surrounded by the lapping of the Atlantic Ocean, his mother was then to return, with himself to England after the relationship with his father diminished. Raho was then to grow into one of the leading artists of the YBA generation that is still expanding today. Attending Goldsmiths in the Nineties, dubbed the ‘Wunderkind’ of his class, they were instructed to ‘Paint what you see, now’, something which is ever present in his work. In 1995 he was including in the ground braking exhibition: Brilliant! New Art from London at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. His work
was exhibited alongside Damien Hurst, Tracey Emin and the Chapman Brothers, a pinnacle point in his artist career. Along claims to fame include the commissioning of a portrait of Dame Judi Dench which is shown at the National portrait Gallery. Pencil studies have been shown at MOMA in New York and Damien Hirst is a collector of his work. Most recently success: a prizewinner at the John Moores Painting Prize.
‘Jessica’ is a painting of his stepsister, a subject which he has painted many times. In this he presents a slightly larger than life figure looking directly out from the canvas. Positioned directly in first view of the main gallery of the exhibitions, Jessica looks at the visitors from the wall where she is placed.
In the process of creating the painting he choices the clothes for Jess, dressing her up, giving her clothes which were slightly too big for herself.
This gives the figure a kind of vulnerability which is shown through the painting. However they are clothes which will become dated relativity quickly, is Raho ready for comments like, ‘Do you remember when were wore those?’. From the dress- up session he photographed Jess against a white background to create images he could form the portrait from. In the final piece he incorporates a kind of facial expression which the photograph cannot, a kind of defiance, a teenage ‘I’m here but I’m pretending I don’t want to be’.
Raho has always painted portraits all the way through Art College and in all the years beyond those. The use of friends and family as sitters is common within his portraits, in this there is a relationship between the painter and the model which is evident in the final piece. In all his works he uses thinned down oils which dry over a longer period. Each painting has a turn over rate of around one year from initial photography to completion point. About one month actual painting but with drying and blending time and additional working this accumulates into the year period. A painstakingly, but rewarded long process to produce a kind of realism which is not ordinarily practised today. The use of the white background is common in all of his work, abandoning early shades of grey for his preferred pure white. In this he blends the person into the background producing portraiture which will stand the course of generations.
PV Windows and Floorboards
The Overall winner of the 2014 John Moores Painting prize, only the forth woman to win the award in nearly 60 years. At the current age of 80 Rose’ artistic career has spread over decades, accumulating in her
greatest success in the last 5 years. Recent successful exhibitions include ‘Women to Watch’ NMWA Washington DC 2010. ‘BP Spotlight: Rose Wylie’ Tate Britain London 2013, ‘What Means Something’ Choi & Lager Cologne 2014. Collections include Arts Council Collection. Rose attended the Folkstone and Dover College of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art at a much later stage at MA level. Painted by Antony Davas in the 1950’s she was one of the Aero girls. In the late 50’s Round-tree commissioned Davas to paint a serious of girls which where then printed onto Aero Bar wrappers. Rose was not particularly keen on her painting and her portrait work would take a very different direction.
Her studio is located within her house in Kent.
In this she creates a kind of anti-Art, un-stretched, un-primed canvasses stapled up to walls.
Working in 6×6 ft sections she adds and removes new parts. Working with the floor covered in copies of the Guardian Newspaper she wipes brushes on the paper, scrapping paint on and off the canvases. Often working for 5 days and nights straight in one go- falling into bed when painting has ceased for the day. Adding more sections to the canvas for shoulders, sewing on sections for skirts. Her artist career took a back seat for the period when she had children, her husband: Roy Oxlade,’also a painter,
career took centre stage while she focussed on the needs of her children.
In ‘PV Windows and Floorboards’ she has used line painting techniques to depict the Georgian windows and floor boards to form a kind of set which the figures are painted into. The ‘PV’ is representational of ‘Private View’ which Rose attended and decided to use as a subject matter for a painting. To the right she has depicted Nancy Dural, the Arts editor of the Times: Large poncho, hair stretched back combined with a sensitive oval face. The use of tight jeans and sandals, interesting eyes of the other figure. She recalls the girl with the rose dress looking as if her arms were detached from herself, so in the image she paints them this way. To the far left she includes a profile of herself in the painting. In her work she is not trying to capture an essence of the people she is depicting. The type of mood there in through colour, clothes and hairstyles and how people project themselves done through the childlike style she has adopted.
So, did an internationally re-noun get a hand in winning the John Moores Painting Prize? Decided in April, announced in September, does it give the prize more credibility if it is one by an Artist of Great International Standing? In short answer: No. Five are selected to sit on the jury. Out of 2,500 entries they are given only: digital images, medium, dimensions and the name of the painting. Details of the Artist Name, gender and reputation are excluded. Any talk by the judging panel is directed away from who the Artist is and the Jurors are respectful of the Open nature of the contest. This leads to the eclectic mix of established artists and young wiper snappers which make up the contest. The most senior painter to submit work to the Prize this year. A painter who now sell on a large scale in the later part of her career- how many more great paintings will we see from this great artist? Many more I’m sure.
Another great year for the John Moores painting prize, a year of crisp packet canvas’ from Conor Rogers and a sculptural forms ‘Inked Proposal 0813’ made entirely from silicone paint. All worthy winners in the new addition to the Art World: Mandy Payne and more gripping portraiture from Alessandro Raho with his presentation of a very strong willed female: Jessica. The overall winner: Rose Wylie, only the forth women to have ever one the Prize. And a very female painting, women interacting with each other and an artistic style which depicts so much expression of character. An image which grow on the viewer, the initial impression of child-like scrawl dismissed for representation where more is seen every time it is viewed. A painting which reflects a lifetime of artistic practise, decades of creative development: Rose now the grand age of eighty. What now for The John Moores Painting Prize, what will we see in two years time? More female entrants, more female’s exhibiting, more female prizewinners and more female overall winners? Who knows. Simply a marvellous Prize which will continue to be at the forefront of Contemporary British painting.
Aerosol spray on concrete with wooden frame
32.7 x 46.5 cm
Copyright the artist
Signed and dated at top right edge
Oil on canvas
247 x 170 cm
97 1/4 x 66 7/8 ins
Copyright the artist
Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London
Photo: Todd White
PV Windows and Floorboards
Oil on canvas
181 x 334.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist and UNION Gallery, London
94 TEESDALE STREET
LONDON E2 6PU
TEL +44 (0) 203 176 7303
TEL +44 (0) 203 176 7278
FAX +44 (0) 20 7729 9461
we would take a look back on the last awards: