The prize, an important element in the Liverpool Biennial, is the UK’s most prestigious painting award, with David Hockney one of the early winners in 1967. Alexei Sayle, who’s making a BBC4 documentary about the award, was at the Walker for the shortlist announcement on July 4, as were Tim Marlow and his fellow judges and many of the artists whose works feature in the exhibition.
The prize aims to identify outstanding contemporary painting of any kind, and the shortlisted works apply a variety of artistic methods to an equally varied range of subjects. The most immediately striking is Juliette Losq’s Vinculum, a large-scale work which plays with perspective and has a disorientating, vertigo-inducing effect on the viewer as we look down some stairs into a neglected, ivy-covered yard. Mandy Payne’s Brutal, spray painted directly onto concrete, is a starkly symmetrical view of Sheffield’s Park Hill, a 1960s council estate.
In contrast Jessica by Alesandro Raho illustrates the deeply personal nature of much of his work. He often uses family and friends as models, and this is a painting of his stepsister, against a simple white background.
Rae Hicks, who was born in 1988, is the youngest shortlisted artist. The title of Sometimes I Forget That You’re Gone seems integral to the piece, which creates an uneasy sense of loss, as if something or someone is missing.
There are forty five other entries for visitors to enjoy studying at the Walker, selected from a total entry of over two and a half thousand. The standard is impressively high, as illustrated by Robin Dixon’s memorable Estuary Bridge.
Another interesting element in the exhibition is the inclusion of prizewinning works from the 2014 John Moores Painting Prize China, which was held for the third time in Shanghai earlier this year.
Tim Marlow, chair of the John Moores judges and well known for his numerous radio and television programmes on the arts, sums up this year’s John Moores exhibition by saying, ‘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.’
The John Moores Painting Prize 2014 exhibition continues at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 30 November. Entry is free. For more information, click HERE.