running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Wright Choice for the Turner

Monday, 7 December 2009

A year ago this week, I went to see the Gerhardt Richter exhibition at Edinburgh's National Gallery, and in a blog post about that visit, 'Off the Richter Scale', I contrasted Richter's amazing paintings with some of the dirge from prospective entrants for the 2009 Turner prize, which included a video installation of falling teacups.

The Turner has always been keen on awarding to mavericks with questionable originality. Previous winners of the prize have included Grayson Perry, Gilbert and George, Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst. Last year, Mark Leckey won with a pop culture influenced film featuring Homer Simpson and Felix the Cat (no, I'm not joking).

But the shortlist this year was really good, and the eventual winner Richard Wright is one of the best artists working today in the UK. His contribution to this year's Turner Prize exhibition is a gargantuan gold-leaf fresco almost covering one wall of the gallery.

Wright's Gold Leaf Fresco

Wright, a Glasgow-based painter whose works include huge canvasses of coloured points and massive frescos, is inspired by architecture and space, and he beat Roger Hiorns, Enrico David and the very Eva Hesse-influenced Lucy Skaer, to take the prize.

Painters are a bit of a rarity in modern art, and Wright's work is all done using a Medieval technique that starts off with simple drawing and then escalates and expands into large repeating patterns. What makes his stuff all the more fascinating is that his bespoke artworks are designed to fit each exhibition space, and are then dismantled after each exhibition - he leaves with nothing, and sells nothing.

Roger Hiorns should actually get a mention too, he submitted a far-out work called 'Seizure', in which a derelict flat in South London was filled with liquid copper sulphate, which after a period of time encrusted every surface of the space with blue crystals.

Wright Strikes Gold (the Guardian)
Wright Wins Turner (BBC).
The Tate.org