Sunday, January 2, 2011

John Moores Painting Prize 2010

I went with the fascination of G.L. Brierley's work but was actually quite disappointed with the painting exhibited [possibly due to the fact I had previously seen her solo show at Madder 139 gallery prior to this visit]. In isolation, the painting warrants full concentration and wonder as your eyes trace over the cracks, ripples and folds of paint. However, in the context of the exhibition, lined up alongside five or six other similarly proportioned paintings, her work became amazingly bland and nondescript. It held no power over me [situated next to "Refractions..." by Jason Thompson and Damien Flood's "Drip"; paintings which herald the flatness of modern abstraction]. Instead it fades into the background casting the appearance of a vase filled with dying flowers in the corner of the room. 

"Jilly Jiggy"
29 x 24.5 cm Oil on wood

30 x 40 cm Oil on cotton

"Refractions [Robert Hooke]"
33.7 x 28 cm Enamel paint and varnish on plywood
I wondered whether it was the location of her work in the exhibition, the scale or the fact that her work demands more attention when flanked by more of her paintings. It's sad to say that actually I found it quite dull and if truth be told, this particular painting seems to have more depth when photographed than when seen in person. My excitement to see her work in this exhibition wilted but I am glad to have previously viewed a collection of her painting to appreciate her intriguing use of materials.

Behind her painting sits the impressive work by Jon Braley. I can't stress enough how much more intense and captivating it is in person compared to the photographic reproduction of it. You really have to see it to appreciate it. Initially, I immediately thought that this should deserve a prize. The sensation captured within the smooth, calm, gleaming surface of the resin, whilst turmoil rages with vehement energy composed in the monochromatic paint underneath, frozen in a fascinating tension. Fierce but calm at the same time and utterly hypnotizing. 

91.2 x 121.5 cm
Mixed paint and resin on canvas
Aside is Phil Illingworth's "3D Painting No.1 (experiments with colour reflection)". My first encounter with this work was the rather bizarre reproduction in the catalogue. There it appears much like a computer generated image. When first confronted with the work in person, I actually felt was in fact quite dull. A three-dimensional painting with primitive colouring that produced a surprisingly shallow two-dimensional experience. But in fact, this is an initial superficiality. One's experience with the painting changes depending on their situation in relation to it. Whilst admiring Braley's work in more detail, colours cheekily peeked out from the various nooks and crannies obscured by the shapes within the painting.

"3D Painting No.1 (experiments with colour reflection)"
30.5 x 50.5 cm
Acrylics, blue household emulsion, gesso and MDF
Across the room stands Andy Harper's exquisite painting. Again the reproductions in the catalogue just do not give this painting justice. I initially dismissed this painting as purely decorative and pattern-like, however, his technique and minute detailing in person is quite breathtaking. Unfortunately, I felt it was rather ill-placed as George Sherlock's incredibly ugly polythene acrylic painting looked as though it had been dumped right next to it. Tacked up on the wall, it appeared no have no more depth in either skill or concept than displaying the residues left on the inside of a dirty bin liner. according to Sherlock, images are painted onto the polythene surface which is turned into a 'shallow bath' in which acrylic paint is allowed to mix and separate as he varies the amount of water added to the 'pool'. Explaining that his practice involves "exploring and extending the possibilities in the use of acrylic paint on different surfaces". 

"Frau Troffea"
45 x 40 cm Oil on canvas
Andy Harper

"Polycrylic Decades"
175 x 232 cm Acrylic on polythene
George Sherlock