Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Loss Leaders: The Turner Prize Shortlist Reflects This Age of Austerity, Writes Fisun Guner

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Loss Leaders: The Turner Prize Shortlist Reflects This Age of Austerity, Writes Fisun Guner

Article excerpt

Turner Prize 2010

Tate Britain, London SW1

Since the Turner Prize stopped being a televised event, it has been a relatively civilised affair. It is not in the tradition of the prize for judges to storm out or make sly comments in print about others' ill-conceived choices. That sort of behaviour is left to literary prizes. And in this world of utter reasonableness, we have been rewarded this year with a very reasonable, solid shortlist. It is also the strongest in years.

This is a shortlist perfectly attuned to the age of austerity. Where contemporary art in the 1990s was characterised by a mood of brash confidence, the opposite is true here. All the works chosen are about loss. You feel it as soon as you step into the first gallery. Dexter Dalwood's paintings concern themselves with death. The Death of David Kelly depicts a solitary, sinuous tree rising up to greet a pale, wonky moon. A tiny patch of earth is a severely curving hump, as if, against the otherwise uninterrupted midnight blue, you are observing it from a distant cosmos. But where, on this lonely hillock of earth, is the body of the weapons expert?

Dalwood's paintings do not contain the figures after which they are named. Many depict the scene of a well-documented death, while others are made from tissues of associations: Burroughs in Tangiers, for example, with its corner of wild, exotic foliage ripped straight out of a Matisse (the artist painted in Tangiers), is an art-historical pot-pourri. As well as Matisse, we find the scribbles of Cy Twombly, a Gerhard Richter colour chart in place of a wooden skirting, and the stylistic drips, daubs and smears of various artistic movements of the 20th century.

Next come the broken, cracked and crumpled canvases of Angela de la Cruz, paintings morphing into sculptures but barely surviving the transmutation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.