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John Moores Painting Prize shortlist revealed

The five shortlisted artists vying for this year’s prestigious John Moores Painting Prize have been revealed.

The winner of the £25,000 first prize will be announced on September 14 at the Walker Art Gallery where the John Moores Painting Prize exhibition will be held.

The shortlisted artists are Nicholas Baldion, Graham Crowley, Emily Kraus, Damian Taylor and Francisco Vardes.

They were chosen by the judging panel from more than 3,000 anonymous submissions to the prize – one of the most sought after in the painting world.

Nicholas Baldion - Social Murder: Grenfell In Three Parts

Nicholas Baldion has exhibited work throughout the UK, including at Mall Galleries, the People’s History Museum and The Jewish Museum in London. A social realist concern has always been the basis for his work.

Social Murder: Grenfell in Three Parts tells the story of what happened before and after the 2017 fire at the Grenfell Tower in London. The middle panel shows the tower on the night of the fire. When the triptych is closed, the green heart - a symbol of Grenfell - is visible. The writing on the reverse was added by members of the local community nearby to Grenfell Tower. It stands as a testimony, which is to be added to as the painting continues its journey.

Graham Crowley – Light Industry

Graham Crowley's work has been shown extensively in England and Europe, including exhibitions at the Venice and Paris biennales and at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. He is included in a number of public collections and has also completed several large-scale public commissions. Crowley worked originally as an abstract painter but began to paint figuratively in the 1970s.

Light Industry is inspired by luminosity in painting. The artist has always been fascinated by paintings like those of Manet. The way in which the image and the painting as its own object can be seen simultaneously – fused together as a single, luminous entity – is one of painting’s defining characteristics.

Emily Kraus - Stochastic 14

Represented by The Sunday Painter Gallery in London, Emily Kraus received her Painting MA from the Royal College of Art in London (2022) and a BA in Religious Studies from Kenyon College (2017). Kraus has an extensive background in meditative, yogic and somatic practices which impacts the pace and movement with which she creates.

Kraus works inside a cubic scaffold structure around which she stretches a canvas loop. It is a shelter, a constraint, a tabernacle and a boundary. The mechanism itself — rolling bars and canvas with no end — is a metaphor for the cyclical world. To create an organic image within a rigid system whose nature is to make repetitive marks requires listening, attention and rebellion.

Damian Taylor – Other Light

Damian Taylor works in a studio beside the River Thames in London. He studied at Chelsea College of Art, followed by an MA at the Slade School of Fine Art, and holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, where he currently teaches. He has received fellowships from Oxford and Yale and published in journals such as October, Oxford Art Journal, British Art Studies, and Sculpture Journal.

Other Light is described as “something about time and something about light,” and about unfixing historical attempts to fix things that are always in motion. It explores layers and sedimentation—sedimentations of organic life, rock, paint, time, along with painting and what it can be in a world saturated with images on screens.

"The painting is about photography and its history, magic and banality - and a little bit about men explaining things to women. "

Francisco Valdes – Champagne Cascade I

Francisco Valdes is a Chilean-born artist, based in the UK. He holds an MFA from Goldsmiths College in London where he currently lives and works. From 2003 to 2005 he attended the postgraduate studio programme at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in the Netherlands. Since 1990 he has held more than 20 solo shows.

Champagne Cascade I combines textures, surfaces and colours to produce sensations that images and figures alone would never reach. It explores the photographic medium from different angles, often disregarding its usual applications and choosing to subjectify other aspects apart from the content, such as techniques, materials and processes.

Above: The Walker Art Gallery. Top: The John Moores Painting Prize judges. Photo by Robin Clewley.

Along with the £25,000 first prize, the winning artwork will be acquired for the Walker collection and the winner will have a future solo display at the gallery.

Each of the other shortlisted artists will receive £2,500, while there is also a Visitors’ Choice Award – with the winner voted on from the 70 paintings in the full exhibition – sponsored by Rathbones and which is this year is worth £2,023.

And the winner of the Lady Grantchester Prize for recent graduates, those who are within five years of graduation, or students who are currently in their final year of a UK-based arts-related course, will be announced alongside the first prize winner on September 14.

They will receive £5,000, a residency and £2,500 worth of art materials, supported by Winsor & Newton. 22 out of the 70 exhibiting artists qualify for the Lady Grantchester prize this year.

The John Moores Painting Prize was founded in 1957 and has awarded more than £685,000 in prize money across 31 exhibitions, which have showcased more than 2,350 works of art. It presents a rich history of post-war painting in Britain. The first exhibition was held only six years after the Walker Art Gallery re-opened following the Second World War. 

Past prize winners include David Hockney (1967), Mary Martin (1969), Peter Doig (1993), Keith Coventry (2010), Rose Wylie (2014), Jacqui Hallum (2018) and most recently Kathryn Maple (2020). Patron Sir Peter Blake, won the competition’s Junior Prize in 1961.

The John Moores Painting Prize exhibition is at the Walker Art Gallery from September 16 to February 25 2024.


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