Thursday, February 19, 2015

Exhibition Review: Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2015

Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2015 - paintings by prizewinners
see my prizewinners post for details
Yesterday I went back to the Mall Galleries to see the Lynn Painter-Stainers Exhibition 2015 without the benefit of the very many bodies who packed the gallery on Monday night for the PV.

This year's exhibition has an additional feature at the entrance level to mark the 10th anniversary of this Prize. There's a mini-exhibit within the exhibition of paintings by all of the previous winners of the Prize.

Paintings by the winners of first 10 years of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize

So - what did I think of the paintings selected and the exhibition as a whole?

Well, this is always one of my favourite exhibitions to visit because of its emphasis on draughtsmanship and representational art.
  • It always offers a great range in styles and approaches to these two criteria for the work selected. 
  • It's an exhibition which includes drawings as well as paintings and the contrast between monochrome and colour is also very pleasing. 
  • Plus the standard of artwork included is high
  • even if it inevitably has the odd work where you really do wonder what the judges were about!
One thing I did notice was a certain element of "me too"ism creeping in e.g. a small painting which looked a lot like a smaller version of last year's winner, a drawing which did the same thing re. an earlier winner and a drawing of the "motif of the moment" which is being done repeatedly by many different artists. The thing is it's perfectly natural for artists to think "Well if they liked that maybe I should do something similar". However what I want to see is absolute originality. I don't think I've made this type of comment before about this competition. So maybe one for next year's judges to ponder on.....

The end wall in the gallery
I took a number of photos and as I was going round noticed that the hang was rather well done. This post is going to be quite a visual commentary of groupings I liked.

Artwork I liked
top left: Beech tree by Patricia Cain | Pastel,148x111cm £6,500
Bottom left: Homs City, Syria by Chris Shaw Hughes, Carbon drawing,42x30cm £1,800
Bottom right: Olivia Kemp, The plot ripens | Pen,84x70cm £2,000
Much as I like Chris Shaw Hughes carbon pencil drawing, I do have very definite reservations about people creating drawings from the photographs of others - and a ton of respect for people who do such drawings from visits to the places they are portraying. Artists who do copy other people's photographs would do well to read my post about what happened to Luc Tuymans recently - see Plagiarise at your peril - the Luc Tuymans case.  Of course if it's your own photo, the issues around copyright infringement simply don't arise.

Just around the corner wwere these two paintings which deserved a feature spot. You can see much larger versions of these two paintings on John Cahill's website. He uses amazing control over colour and brushwork to produce these paintings which are essentially an exercise in pointillism

Sunlight on the morning frost Acrylic and gouache,93x100cm £4,600
Pablo watching the doves Oil on paper,93x100cm £4,600
by John Cahill
This is a corner where the figuration and the colour really held my attention

Paintings by
Left: Isolation (London light) by Daniel Preece | Oil on canvas, 100x120cm £5,400
Top right: Hanseatic Walk by David Piddock | Oil on board, 60x117cm £7,500
Bottom right: West End cafe bar by Gethin Evans | Oil on panel, 51x102cm £3,500
Below are three monographic works, one in ink, one in graphite and charcoal and one in pink biro! This is one competition which likes monochromatic works and there are usually a good number of them selected for the show. I'm a big fan of Christopher Green's drawings which are all done on separate pieces of paper which are then out together to create one large picture.  I love the fact it took me ages to notice that the car in the foreground is missing part of its roof. The perils of drawing from life in a car park where cars come and go!

Top left: Arena Shopping Park by Christopher Green | Ink on paper, 89x126cm £1,800
Bottom left: Greek Island by Gary Lawrence | Biro on wallpaper, 62.5x123cm £600
Right: Eight equal piers (St Pauls distortion) by Michael JF Chance | Graphite and charcoal, 110x124cm £2,000
Note also that many works are large - look at the dimensions of the works listed!
These artworks looked good together
Below are some medium size pieces. You can check out the dimensions here

Paintings by
(top row) Toby Ward, James Lloyd, Katie Sollohub
(bottom row) Stephen Parkinson, Rachael Gibson and Alex Hanna
Jane Gardiner and her teacakes 
below Ilaria Rosselli del Turcos's rather wonderful boxes
Some works are not presented as well as they might be.

For example, I liked the image top right (above) - however I'd have liked it an awful lot more if somebody had cleaned up the image and removed all the dirty fingermarks. They might be contemporaneous but IMO they're not clever.  It's perfectly possible to clean up an image without removing the spontaneity in other areas. The thing is I found my eye just kept being drawn by the dirty marks - and that's not supposed to happen.

Has anybody noticed how many nests have been drawn in the last year? I've nothing against them and admire those who have a go - but I do think it's time to move on to a new motif which represents a drawing challenge;

For those who don't know her - but like her work - on the right is Glaswegian artist Jane Gardiner whose Teacakes were on the small works wall underneath the rather lovely boxes painted by Ilaria Rosselli del Turco.

In my previous post I referenced the fact that one my ex-tutors won one of the runner-up prizes.

James Lloyd and his small white deer
My other tutor from the Drawing School, James Lloyd also there on Monday night. His painting of a small white deer was also hung in the exhibition and included in the portfolio of paintings on the website - although his name was missed off the list of selected artists for some reason. I shall now add it into my listing of selected artists including websites (as links in their names) which you can read in Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize 2015: Selected Artists. I'm apt to introduce James to people as the only person who has ever won the BP Portrait Award (1997) and the Royal Society of Portrait Painter's premier prize - the Ondaatje Award (2008).

One final note. I didn't like the the catalogue this year for two reasons.
  • colour reproduction seemed to be rather muted. Some of the pages looked 'greyed down' which was a big pity as the exhibition contained some paintings with exciting colour
  • also I don't like seeing the pictures being listed in the alphabetical order of their artist's surnames. That's a purely administrative device and the image simply don't suit being listed in this way. It's really disappointing when you see a great large painting rendered very small in a catalogue. I'd like to see the exhibition go back to having a catalogue where the works are grouped in a way which produces a pleasing page. The organisers can always add on a number to the entry to indicate which page the image is published on.
The exhibition continues until Saturday - it's a pity it's not on longer.

Links to previous posts about the Lynn Painter Stainer Prize and Exhibition



  1. Isn't dirty finger marks just an alternate way of signing the work? I think that they tell a meta-level story of the work - this was the artist who smudged the graphite with his/her fingers. It speaks of the creation of the work, but perhaps it can sometimes get a little too much

  2. I do agree about drawings from photographs. The general public can be seduced by meticulous copying of photos, but I am surprised when judges of art competitions prefer them over a more spontaneous image done from life. I may sound a bit of a zealot about this, but my artistic new year's resolution is to do without reference photos this year.

  3. You'll have to trust me since I've seen it up close and you haven't. It does not like the normal smudging of graphite which everybody does.

    It just looks like dirty finger smudges in odd places of the type that often happens while working (e.g. at the edges) and which most people clean up.

    Or to put it another way, they aren't adding anything to the image.


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