Members of WKAG visited the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 at the Walker Gallery on 26th September, 2018. We determined that we would each select our own ‘best painting’ and least favourite paintings from the show. Later over coffee we took some time to assess our winners and losers! There was a degree of positive consensus between us over the painting by Laura Lancaster which is a self portrait using strong tonal contrasts and gestural brushstrokes to convey the image.
Laura Lancaster: Untitled
We also liked the larger scale painting by John Kiki which again is quite gestural in terms of how it has been made - there is also a naive childlike quality to the work which makes it feel fresh and lively.
Other paintings that were liked included those by Damilola Oshilaja, Andy Barker, Emma Fineman, and Nicholas William Johnson.
Damilola Oshilaja: Landscape Redux; No-nVOID/26 IDARIKA, The Land & The Sky
Andy Barker: Nowhere to Go
Nicholas William Johnson: The Intolerable Strangeness of Vegetable Consciousness (Sunsplit II)
Whilst discussing the paintings we identified some common themes that seem to occur in the paintings over a number of previous JM shows. One theme was the use of simplified imagery using fragmented line to describe childlike figures or animals. (John Kiki 2018, Rosie Wylie 2016).
A second theme is the use of a column as a pictorial device to discuss colour or structures. (Steve Payne, Clare Thatcher, Pete Clarke, 2018). We were encouraged to see the work of local artist Pete Clarke included in the exhibition.
Steve Payne: Unamed
Clare Thatcher: Feature of Landscape
A third theme could be termed representational architecture, an interior space, or linear object – the paintings are often tonal, with strong perspective. ( Ben Johnson, Graham Martin 2018)
Ben Johnson: The Space Between Revisited
The discussion also identified paintings that puzzled us in terms of the criteria used to select them for the show. Works by Charlie Franklin, Ian Homerston, and Bill Stewart fell into this category. It’s always tricky looking at a painting that you find striking and trying to justify this to someone who who rates skills highly. However these particular paintings did not appear to demonstrate painterly skills in the conventional sense nor were they ‘striking’ in either a visual or conceptual context.
Charlie Franklin: Flatland
Bill Stewart: Tree Airplane Trap
Overall we found the visit both entertaining and enlightening. When a fellow group member describes their interest in a painting that you have walked past so enthusiastically – it means that you should have another look – and invariably their enthusiasm makes you see it in a new light. It was noted that hearing different viewpoints about the paintings initiated discussion and debate, and often provided a further context to understand the work.
We all agreed that itthe visit was an enriching and thought provoking experience and it would be great to do this again.