Monday, September 22, 2014

Threadneedle Prize 2014 - The Shortlist

Six finalists have been selected for the Shortlist for the Threadneedle Prize 2014 awarded to the very best in new figurative and representational art.

The prize on offer is a £20,000 Prize and a solo exhibition of a wider body of work at the Mall Galleries in 2015. 

Artists shortlisted for The Threadneedle Prize 2014 outside the Mall Galleries the exhibition opens on 25th September
The finalists have been selected from over 3,600 entries and their artwork will be exhibited alongside 58 other entries. The entries have continued to increase year on year in part fue to the continued sponsorship by the Threadneedle Foundation.

The Threadneedle Prize Exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries on 25th September and continues until 11th October 2014. All the works in the exhibition are for sale.

Importantly all exhibitors are also eligible for the £10,000 Visitors’ Choice Award.

The Threadneedle Prize 2014 Shortlist

The six shortlisted artists are:
They were selected by a panel of experts comprising
  • Arts Commissioning Editor and Art Critic at The Times, Nancy Durrant; 
  • Internationally exhibited and collected sculptor, Kevin Francis Gray; 
  • Independent Advisor and Curator of the Hiscox Collection, Whitney Hintz; and 
  • Gallerist and Founder of Art Dubai, John Martin, who has two gallery spaces in London.
Panel member Kevin Francis Gray spoke about the shortlisted artists
“This year’s shortlist highlights the talent of practicing artists who both find ongoing inspiration in the human form and the abstraction of the human form, as indeed have generations of artists before them. This year’s prize shows the need for the support of a timeless response – that of interpreting our artistic experiences in a manner based in representation.”
Below you will find images of the work and the artists and my commentary on the work - as yet unseen in person.

However tomorrow night is the Awards Dinner to which I am invited - and I'm looking forward to hearing the announcement of who has won The Threadneedle Prize. My iPad will be going with me and you might even get a video!

Sue Williams A'Court

In her early career as an illustrator Sue established an international reputation with agents in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. She has since developed her painting practice, exhibiting regularly in London with paintings in public and private collections in the UK and Europe. Previously she has been selected for The Jerwood Drawing Prize, John Moore’s Painting Prize, the Royal Academy Summer exhibition and the National Art Open Competition.
You can see a much bigger image of the work selected for the short list on the home page of Sue William A'Court's website.

Sue Williams A'Court is a contemporary painter living and working in London. She's been a regular finalist in the important art competitions in the UK - in other words she is "known" and "has form"!

Her artwork is curious in that she has used an old book cover for her support and then used white paint and graphite to construct her image which has strong echoes of the Romantic tradition, the sublime landscape and the paintings of artists working in this tradition such as Romantic painters like Caspar David Friedrich and JMW Turner.

Importantly it has echoes of important landscape artists without being a direct copy.

As such it reminds me of Henriette Simson's much larger painting Bad Government (After Lorenzetti) which won the Threadneedle Prize in 2011.

(For those not familiar with Lorenzetti's work - see my post Ambrogio Lorenzetti - the first panorama on The Art of the Landscape

Thomas Allen

As a self-taught artist, Thomas’s distinctive style is a product of his personal experimentation and artistic enquiry. The concepts behind his work often draw upon the ideas he was exposed to while studying for his degree in Sociology. Since graduating, Thomas has received the Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award, the SEAWARD Prize and the Arts Club Award at the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. His work has been exhibited in different venues, including the Royal College of Art, the London Science Museum and previously at Mall Galleries.
Thomas Allen's work appears to be a drawing since it is created from charcoal and sanguine.

You can see a much bigger version of "The Net" on Thomas Allen's website.

I'm getting a strong sense of an interest ideas and concepts which go beyond sociology (see below). There's something of mythology about it. It's also a very controlled and defined idea, format and palette.

He's previously exhibited at the Mall Galleries in 2014 - with The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours Exhibition and The Royal Society of British Artists Exhibition

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball was born in Yorkshire and lives in Wales. She won Welsh Artist of the Year in 2013.
Sarah Ball grew up in South Yorkshire and studied at Newport Art College. Since completing an MFA at Bath Spa University in 2005 Sarah has exhibited widely including the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition, the Royal Academy Summer exhibition, National Open Art Competition and the University of Glamorgan Purchase Prize. She is currently Welsh Artist of the year and is working towards a show in Dallas this Autumn.

Sarah seems to like painting people who are unusual. I'm guessing she's working from standard photos of people - her earlier work seems to be based on mugshots from the USA. However she reworks them so they are clearly her paintings allbeit of different people.

Her shortlisted work is a Quadriptych - four paintings of individuals who all seem to have a skin condition.  They form part of a series called Damaged Humans 2014.

Tina Jenkins

Tina was runner up in the Marmite Painting prize in 2010 and was featured in Two and a Half Dimensions curated by Marcus Harvey at Pangolin in 2011. She had a solo show at studio 1:1 in 2012. She was awarded the Owen Ridley Prize at the University of Reading for an outstanding MFA project and is the recipient of a bursary from Reading University to research her PhD in 2014. Tina’s work plays on and around paintings historical constructs and limitations. She re-conceptualises Painting as a Hysterical act suggesting this can mobilise it as an affirmative force of thought.
Tina Jenkins looks fun. Interestingly she also has the most interesting explanation of her painting on her Saatchi Art website!

David Teager-Portman

David is a sculptor from the north of England, currently based in London. Having studied at Newcastle University BA Fine Art and Royal College of Art MA Sculpture he recently exhibited at Turner Contemporary Margate and The Wilson in Cheltenham.
David has been selected for the Saatchi Gallery New Sensations twice, The Open West twice, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the Coutts Sculpture Prize and The Catlin Guide.

David Teager-Portman is a sculptor - and his work reminds us of why sculpture is important to figurative art. His bronze sculpture looks to me to be pretty big - and I'm guessing it's probably pretty heavy too. (I don't envy him his courier costs!).

It's very odd - the figures remind me both of medieval art (Bayeaux Tapestry et al) and a children's television programme whose name I've forgotten.  Simple stripped back figures can tell stories of major significance.

As with the other artists you can see a much bigger image of his sculpture on his website

Craig Wylie

Craig was born in Masvingo, Zimbabwe and studied at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He has had solo and group shows both in the UK and internationally – exhibiting in Germany, France, Belgium, Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada and the US. His work is represented in many private and public collections, including the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, with a painting of Dame Kelly Holmes, commissioned after he won the BP Portrait Prize in 2008. Craig lives and works in London.
I'm most familiar with Craig Wylie's portraits. I met him the night he won the BP Portrait Award - having already picked his work as the winner in advance(!) - and have followed his work ever since both in terms of his commissioned portrait and his exhibitions.

I think his painting selected for the shortlist is really impressive. I know very well the type of finish and approach to hyperrealism that Craig brings to his work. Technically he's a very fine painter. However his latest paintings have moved away from the 'straightforward' portrait and are now much more intriguing. He's also moved from painting heads and clothed individuals - but his paintings remain massive. His entry is a six footer!

This one's got the look of a possible winner to me........ What on earth is under those cloths and what is going on?  Plus I love the painting of the flesh and the back.

A figurative art exhibition

Lewis McNaught, Director of Mall Galleries, who has overseen the Prize since its inception, adds:
“The Threadneedle Prize exhibition gives a powerful voice to figurative art through a range of different subjects, techniques and mediums. This year’s shortlist of up and coming artists is taking the Prize to a new level of achievement. Visitors to the exhibition will also enjoy a selection of works by more established artists invited by guest curator Sacha Craddock. These complementary yet contrasting approaches to selection will reinforce the impact and influence that figurative art has within the context of contemporary art today.”
Guest curator Sacha Craddock’s selection in the ‘Curated Space’ will feature work by eight leading UK and international artists, all of whom use figurative art as their starting point. Together they will enhance and complete the exhibition’s comprehensive annual survey of Figurative Art Today.

Previous Threadneedle Prizes

The Threadneedle Prize 2013

Threadneedle Prize 2012 - more from Making A Mark

2011 Threadneedle Prize 

Note: The Threadneedle Prize was established in 2008 and has the continued support of Threadneedle Investments, a leading international investment manager, demonstrating their long-term commitment to supporting the arts. Through the Threadneedle Foundation, the company is committed to investing in the community, building partnerships that create positive social impact across a range of sectors, with a particular focus on art and education.

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