The Turner Prize 2011 ~ Review.

The most controversial, contested and headline-catching art award is back and this year it even includes a painter – which should please the critics who don’t really know what they are talking about…

(For the full line up and a walk through the work The Guardian has it covered.)

So for the “boring” bits – It is on show at The Baltic gallery until January 8th. And nearly 5,000 visitors a day are seeing work by four artists – George Shaw, a painter, Karla Black, an installation artist, sculptor Martin Boyce and Hilary Lloyd, a film and video-maker. On December 5th, one will walk away with the £25,000 prize.

Review: I hate to say it but I think the men have it this year. Not that art should be judged on anything more than the work itself, it is just an observation, anyway… (digs myself out of a hole).. here is how I would (or in some case wouldn’t) rate them.

4th – Hilary Lloyd

This piece is called “Shirt.” One screen is focused, the other is not.

Is it giving you anything? Do you connect to it? I don’t. In fact I struggle with the majority of video/screen art because it just seems to present a massive blank that the viewer is supposed to fill in.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind interpreting work, but this isn’t giving me anything to start with. No words. The result is silence. And it seems, luckily, that some critics have felt the same. As Adrian Searle says; ”  I am not really sure what I am looking at. Nor whether to sit and look, wander about, focus on the images, at the apparatus, even at my own shoes. All this drifting is the point, I think.”

Perhaps it is the point. To provide nothing so we look more at what we have in comparison… or maybe that is just me filling the blank.

3rd – Karla Black.

This is one of those exhibitions which you aren’t sure if it is an exhibition. You know what I mean. It doesn’t seem finished, or started, it seems like a room inbetween work that has been left open by mistake.

The childlike quality has been praised and the fact it seems to crumble around you provides a whole ocean of possible meanings that I am sure critics, visitors and others will happily splash around in for a while.

However it doesn’t “whet” my appetite. And the fact it is littered with bath bombs is not the only reason I think it smells a little. I have never really grasped, or tried to, the motivation or reason behind not quite making art and this hasn’t helped either.

2nd – George Shaw

Picking second place was hard. And it is a real testment to my winner that George was just beaten to the top spot.

His work has everything. The skill of using everyday paint to near photographic standard, a sense of humour and a real comment on society.

The picture above is called “Shut Up” and I think it shows the three things I have just mentioned. It has that edge to it most recently seen in Banksy’s work of showcasing the very things we, as a whole, try to cover up or ignore. Yet it is recognisable. Connectable. The scenes shown are a part of our everyday, much more than any rolling-hill-landscape or emotive sea crashing on some cliffs. Plus with the traditional medium he might even win points from those in the know.. however with Turner.. you can never tell.

1st – Martin Boyle

This picture does not to Boyle’s installation justice. Check out the video above and hopefully you will see what I mean. It is breathtaking and the atmosphere it creates is the reason why I hope he gets the prize.

Here you can see the dabbled light created by the suspended ceiling and you can see the modernist twist on what, to me, looks like a park bench. Add to this exquistely cut leaves which drift of their own accord across the room and a wonky, heavily designed sculpture which still says “rubbish bin” and you have the start of his wonderful outside-in exhibition.

By artfully manufacturing nature he pays tribute to it. He shows the wonders of the outdoors by abstracting them and making you look again. And it is this, the way it prompts you to look again at the familiar which really makes it quite magic.

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