I visited the Threadneedle Prize a few days ago and no, it did not unleash my inner Brian Sewell. The prize is at its sixth edition, this year the jury selected one hundred and nine works currently on display at the Mall Galleries, London. The artworks submitted need to be figurative and/or representational, all media are accepted, video and photography only as a part of mixed media installation
The prize this year has been awarded ex aequo to two artists, Clare Mc Cormack and Lisa Wright.
Wright's The Guilty's Gaze on the Innocent references XVI century portraiture. I am always interested when artists examine and make work based on old masters. Instinctively though I preferred her smaller painting than the one which got the prize: Watching the Rhinoceros is based on Pietro Longhi's painting in the National Gallery, previously also looked at by Peter Blake.
I liked very much the feel of Clare McCormack's print on wood planks, however I find that it is one of those works that, when seen without a title or an explanation, make me feel that I'm missing something I should know to better appreciate it.
I liked the First Impression Award winner as well, Nicola Bealing's Plague Season. I enjoyed going through her website and looking at her paintings densely populated by all sorts of creatures.
I had seen Marcele Hanselaar strong works at Kings Place Gallery at her recent show and I was pleased to find her strong and violent work included in the selection.
I liked these very small works by Jaqueline Abel ( no website and very few online traces !!), I am mumbling very much on small format in these days.
Some landscapes were grouped together in the North gallery:
and still life on the opposite wall. There is a clear preference for the quirky rather than the observed.
On this wall clockwise works by Sarah Gillespie, Laura Smith, Alexis Nishihata, Nathan Ford, Tom Mole, Julie Liebling.
Cityscapes by Mandy Payne ( aerosol on concrete) are paired up with another print by Sarah Gillespie.
I always joke on the predilection of the British public for paintings of beaches, and here is a contemporary take on the subject with works by Charles Williams, Stephen Abela, Stephen Read, Mark Jameson.
More works that seem to have been chosen and put together with a taste for the uncanny.
Two works that comment on current affairs, by Ghazaleh Avarzamani and Alan Stones. I really liked both works for different reasons.
Among the portraits my favourite was this sensitive and lyrical painting by Peter Bowen.
My recent interest in printmaking leaves me with a soft spot for this medium and indeed my favourite piece in the show was Look What The Cat Brought In, a book of nine etchings by Jude Freeman. It collects prints of small dead animals, a work that moved me for the delicate commentary on death. So many artists ( I, among them) have had the urge to paint a small dead bird when they find one on their path, this book does it in a beautiful way, with the sense pity a child may feel when they see a victim of nature. The animals are composed and laid to rest with some leaves for comfort, aren't we all mortal beings ?