TURNER PRIZE 2009 Tate Britain, SW1 THIS is simply the best Turner Prize in living memory. The diverse exhibition segues from the sensual abstractions of 34-year-old Scottish artist Lucy Skaer to the deluxe wallpaper landscapes of Glaswegian veteran Richard Wright, to the surrealist cabaret of Italian-born Londoner Enrico David, and finally, the haunting symbolism of materials in the work of the young odds-on favourite Roger Hiorns.
All the artists have been critically acclaimed in Britain and across Europe. Collectively they underline how the Britart of British art has been dissolved into a new fantastic internationalism, yet perhaps distinguished by its paradoxes of eccentricity, informality and precision.
Lucy Skaer softens the rigorous forms of Pop Art and Minimalism with natural history. There's a black abstract painting in which you can eventually see the skeleton of a whale, while next door she has dramatically placed a giant whale's skull, which can only be mysteriously glimpsed through slits in partitions.
Enrico David is a Retro-Modernist fogey, one of a number artists engaged in an idiosyncratic revisiting of early 20th-century art.
On a black podium he seems to assemble a cast of characters from a long-forgotten Surrealist performance in Berlin circa 1929. Egg- like forms with human faces sit on sledge-runners, knees bent. There's an angry woman in a basket drawn in homage to the erotic Art Nouveau illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, and an elongated soft-toy of a human figure that recalls the reclining nudes of Picasso in the Thirties.
The impenetrable imagery feels as if it has emerged from the smoke of an opium pipe. …