Wednesday, 9 December 2009

And the winner is ...

RICHARD WRIGHT has left a permanent mark on the contemporary art scene as he won the Turner Prize 2009 and  just as I had hoped.

“Untitled” – Richard’s entry at the Turner Prize 2009
 (photo credit

A bit of background first for those who don’t know about the Turner Prize. It is an annual contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art. The chosen winner is a British artist under 50 awarded for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding..
I am very pleased that Richard Wright won.  Also judging by the amount of support that he received from visitors to the exhibition, it would have been surprising if someone else was chosen. But apparently Roger Hiorns was quite the favourite (as told by the Telegraph). I actually liked Lucy Skaer’s works but critics said they were a bit scattered (true). Enrico David’s entry was dark and twisty… not really to my taste. Though someone did leave him a message saying “I would love to wrap the long legs and neck around me”. More about that in another entry…
The 49-year old Glasgow-based artist was said to be the oldest winner of the most pretigious prize in the modern British art scene. And I am so pleased he had entered and been chosen, had it been next year there would have been little chance for me to know about his work.  I also heard that Richard is now represented by Gagosian, pushing his price tag to go even higher than just the Turner Prize win itself … But this didn’t seem to be his intention with the art he makes.
The media has enough coverage about this event. I want to write about my impression of  Wright’s work and how it had spoken to me in a way that made him was my personal favourite artist/a winner of this year’s short list even before selection was announced.
As you exit Lucy Skaer’s exhibition room feeling rather impressed with the huge sperm whale skull and a bit puzzled by her other works… You will enter another space which is completely empty…  apart the gold painting on an end wall. The first thing comes to your mind is … WOH!  It draws you to walking closer and examine this fascinating and beautiful piece of work. You wonder how it was made…
As I learnt, Wright employed the apparently painstaking techniques of Renaissance fresco-makers, first drawing a on paper and then transferring parts of that drawing to the wall by piercing the paper with holes and rubbing chalk through it, lastly covering with gold leaf.
There wasn’t any shocking element when you see Richard’s work or read about  it.  It was just this subtle but mesmerizing beauty that you can’t help but gazed at for as long as you can. Then you’d walk from one end of the painting to the other to observe how the light is moving with you, as if Richard has painted the map of  some world and the sun is rising and then setting wherever you are. My mind can’t help but wanders… genius! I remember going back and forth admiring his work.  At that time there was only me in the room, I wished someone was there so I could share my enjoyment viewing this work with them…
Then suddenly you’d turn around and see  on the opposite wall,  high up right on top of the entrance is this symmetrical red painting of what looks like some sort of living organism or skeleton of a fish. And beyond that you see glimpses Lucy’s sperm whale skeleton… Interesting interaction with space!
I think out of all the works on display, I had to read the literature explaining Richard’s the least. Because you didn’t need a lot of explanation to like it.  However, after watching the video about the artists, I was even more blown away by Richard’s ideas and character. He is the quieter and subtler artist. His “humbleness” and the philosophical approach somehow made the painting even more beautiful and memorable. Wright says “space is a work that has already begun”; the light of the space is already determined and by adding certain details (sometimes not even instantly noticeable) the space itself is then transformed and a new atmosphere is created. You can’t see the air but you can feel the atmosphere right?…  So every space is can be a work of art, and you can make it more beautiful and engaging with very intricate details.
The temporary nature of Wright’s work is intended. His work is always changing because the space is his canvass. Anything that has been drawn is temporary and will be removed after the space is to be used for something else. With this idea he really challenges the value of art and now how art can be priced (since it is so temporary). It also challenges what it is going on in the contemporary art world… with Turner Prize winners like Hirst, Emin going on to make millions from their art.. (actually some of those works is also disappearing slowly like the decaying shark that had to be replaced). I think in a commercial modern art era, this is very admirable.
Wright also says that he likes the idea that “there is nothing left when I’m gone. If the work is important enough it will survive”.  His art work is for NOW, and not for the future, emphasizing. A philosophy.
So after the video, I came back to absorb the painting in my memory, because in a couple of weeks it will be vanished forever. I skipped all the other artists’ work because I know if I want I can see them again even though that isn’t true with one of Hiorns’ work.
I am excited to see how Gagosian will be managing Richard’s works :) They are definitely going to worth much more than the £25,ooo Turner price tag.
And if I ever get super rich, I wouldn’t mind having a Wright in one of my rooms. Bravo Richard!

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