Courses for horses

62 pictures, the most ever in its 60-year history, have been selected for this year’s John Moores Prize, the winner of which is announced on September 13th. The Jackdaw had heard of five of the 62. 40 years ago we would have heard of all fifty artists, and each represented by one of their better efforts. The exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery runs from September 15th to January 6th and, as we have pointed 404 Not Found out in the recent past, it has been subverted to the cause of State Art such that it’s now in all but name a Turner Prize for painting.

Curiously for a painting prize there is no gifted painter on the selection panel: this includes Yentob, who doesn’t know the first thing about painting; Blazwick, the Whitechapel director and State Art board member who will doubtless be referring all decisions to the top; George Shaw, who paints council estates by numbers in enamel; Angela de la Cruz, a sculptor-cum-assembler; and Fiona Banner, who writes stories in longhand on canvases. The three artists on the panel have all been nominated for that passe-partout State Art membership card, the Turner Prize.

Illustrated here is Cullinan Richards’ Collapse into Abstract (Black), which with a title like that will surely be a challenging investigation into the nature of painting qua painting. Over 3,000 artists entered a work for consideration, which means that 47 other pictures were rejected for each of those chosen. Were all 47 really worse than Richards’s collapsing abstract?

No question this will be – like the last one – a bloody awful collection of wince-inducing daubs but one will have to attend in order to enjoy a hearty laugh at the artbollocks written about each entry, always a highlight

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of the exhibition. And there’s always the permanent collection of the Walker, which is easily the best in England outside London.

David Lee

The Jackdaw, June 2012