Posts Tagged ‘turner prize 2009’

Why Roger Hiorns Should Have Won The Turner Prize

In art|BOOK, comment|BOOK on December 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Although the work of Richard Wright was admirable, my vote was definitely with Roger Hiorns to win the Turner Prize.

If I were to name one outstanding work from any artist nominated for the Turner Prize, Seizure is one that first comes to mind.  Consisting of a council flat covered in blue copper sulphate crystals, Hiorns became the creator of nothing less than a striking environment.

Through Seizure and Hiorns’ exhibition at the Tate Britain this year, I could see no other artist as innovative as him.  Upon the entrance to his exhibition, the spectator is met with a sizeable floor piece of an atomised jet plane. At first when I saw his exhibition, I wasn’t overly blown away.  However, that changed when I came to learn the purpose of his art.

Hiorns bases his creations on the human illusion that everything lasts forever. To challenge this misperception of the world, he exposes materials to processes that demonstrate the destruction and erosion of nature, eventually reducing them to dust.

In order to create the atomised jet plane, Hiorns had the metal completely melted and turned into dust, leaving the floor of the Tate Britain covered in an array of black, grey and silver particles.  A heavy industrial object in which humans depend on, believing planes to always exist, is cremated just as the human body can be after death.

Where Wright displayed a talent for producing beautiful wall paintings, Hiorns re-interprets beauty throughout his works in a more realistic fashion.  In my opinion, Seizure was the most dazzling and innovative piece contributed by any of the four nominees, and this is why Hiorns should have been awarded with 2009’s Turner Prize.

The re-opening of Seizure is now being shown until Jan 3 2010 at Artangel, Harper Road

Turner Prize Entry: Roger Hiorns

In art|BOOK on November 17, 2009 at 1:17 am

By Julie Scrase

I don’t know that he’s the best, but my vote is with Roger Hiorns and here’s why…

Nietzsche said that the artist does not want to be read but to be learned by heart. Yet that most prosaic act of reading must occur before its more profound counterpart can take place, if indeed it does take place. So I ‘read’ the exhibition. Took in the works of all four artists enthusiastically, inquisitively, critically, contemplatively (God knows what makes for a good ‘reader’?). Then I waited a few days.

Push come to shove, which if any of the artists had I learned by heart? The phrase implies the engagement of the memory faculty pertaining to the intellect, but also of the emotional function commonly assigned to the heart. And without question it was Roger Hiorns whose poetic residue had clung on most stubbornly in the face of Colchester rain, cheap wine, essay induced tears and other corrosive fluids encountered in the daily life of an Essex girl.

Hiorns employs ‘active ingredients’ in his sculpture and installation which continue to play out developments of or conclusions to the works- beyond the influence of the artist himself. He sets a relationship between two elements in motion (generally finding 3rd elements to be superfluous) and as such allows the piece its own creative impulse. Functional objects may become ‘imaginative, poetic or esoteric’. Take, for example, his gully which, rather than receiving water, emitted fire from beneath the Pimlico ground (Vauxhall 2003).

Visitors to Hiorns’ room at the Turner Prize will encounter a beautiful, mysterious landscape. Evoking a post-apocalyptic desert in shades of grey. Its subtle, undulating form quietly emanates pathos. All the more so when we learn that this melancholic mass is an ‘atomized passenger aircraft engine’ -now devoid of any mobilizing power. Once full of the potency of the machine, then subject to that selfsame ferocity (powerful apparatus were used in the atomizing process). Once propelling itself on a high-speed journey, soaring through the sky, now slumbering, inertly spread across the ground.

‘An object that is a projection of our minds; our minds boundary is unlimited in this sense’ – So says Hiorns of the fruits of his labour. These words seem particularly apt in relation to his contributions to the exhibition: the material repertoire here boils down to plastic, steel and brain matter (that other great engine!). Hiorns ain’t joking about projecting the mind into his objects, boundary-less indeed! Literal as this in itself may be, the use of the substance is far-reaching in its potential, abstract allusions- triggering ideas of cognition and control. And that is just the tip of the iceberg regarding what the brain signifies in our culture. I was especially struck by the material juxtaposition of this seemingly timeless, organic and intensely personal substance with stainless steel. Their fusion formed a highly formalist image of repeated pattern suggestive of mechanical and not ‘animal’ activity. In another piece, brain matter and plastic are combined (another striking synthesis of materials) forming objects which this time hint at anatomy: bone or sinew; but are ultimately enigmatic; un-placeable. In a sly nod to the ‘what is (conceptual) art?’ problem, the lofty substance of concept and abstraction – brain matter – is, in this case, the very visceral component.

Hiorn’s has been nominated for his council estate installation, ‘Seizure’. This inner-city alchemist poured 80,000 litres of copper sulphate liquid into an abandoned council flat and watched as brilliant blue crystals automatically cultivated, multiplied relentlessly and eventually completed their dazzling seizure of this property which is now reminiscent of an Ali Baba’s cave in a grimly contemporary setting. Condemned flat, turned breathtaking gem-stone on a colossal scale, Seizure alludes to myth, science, real-estate, social inequality and altered states of consciousness. There is an uncomfortable quality accompanying this bejewelled beauty. Its eternally self-generating nature carries an archetypal foreboding. First on show to the public in 2008, Seizure returned, by popular demand, to run from July 2009 until January 2010 and I implore you, if you have not yet done so, to seize your second chance to bear witness to this most startling vision.

Turner Prize Entry: Richard Wright

In art|BOOK on November 17, 2009 at 1:14 am

By Julie Scrase

It takes a mere fleeting glance at the comments scrawled by visitors as one leaves the exhibition to see that, were it up to the public vote, Richard Wright would win. Hands down.

‘A fresco painter interested in formal beauty’ is how Wright has been benevolently described. Such a label misleadingly suggests a naivety or simplicity which I think can no longer exist in the evermore intellectualised realm of ‘high-art’. If one paints frescos in 2009, and is consequently nominated for the Turner Prize, we can be quite sure that one does so as a commentary upon or allusion to the vast history of fresco painting through the ages. Or, as is particularly the case for Wright, we are aware that it functions as a provocation of architectural surfaces, as a fresh revelation of internal spaces and as a comment on temporality. If one is interested in formal beauty it s not an innate delight in the oh-so mysteriously, divinely occurring golden-ratios. It is a canny questioning of the meaning of beauty, the decorative –and hence typography & tattoo etc- in contemporary culture with, once again, more than a hint of academic allusion to art’s history. In short, Wright is of the post-modern breed: making art about art -resulting in a ‘hybrid graphic Esperanto’.

The big feature of his Turner Prize exhibition piece is a baroque-style painting in gold leaf which sprawls in geometric progressions and repetitions across an entire wall of the gallery. The use of gold leaf is both visually impressive and metaphorically loaded. Gold is a compound whose symbolic meaning is made of deity, glamour, wealth, politics, geography, exploitation and veneration. It takes us delving underground and ascending to heavenly heights and it is the common currency which carries us through the ‘civilized’ terrain in-between: from church to catwalk to commerce. It seems that art and gold have lived parallel if not intertwined, lives.

On close inspection one sees (as is typical of, indeed fundamental to, Wright’s paintings) no attempt to smooth over the imperfections of the wall’s surface, not even electrical sockets or switches. In this sense he is not a ‘white-cube’ artist, every work of his is essentially site-specific and refers not only to itself but to its context – because the two entities cannot be separated. Site-specific work can be problematic as it may too easily be made crass by literal, theatrical or laboured metaphorical envelopment or enrobement of context. However Wright’s subtle method incorporates its context with remarkably elegant fluidity. Furthermore if one feels that the baroque swirls and use of gold-leaf are out-modedly grandiose, the bleakly temporary nature of the work (which a few licks of paint down the line will be gone forever) functions as a slickly sombre and modern counterbalance.

All very nice, but what’s the art world’s most publicised prize without a spot of controversy? And this time it does come down to something as apparently innocent as a few rust-red spots above a doorway at the opposite end of the room to his larger wall painting. It just so happens that it entirely diverts the eye from what woud be a well framed view of Lucy Skaers’ installation. This is intelligent one-upmanship at its coolest. But, being a late addition to the show, it has an undoubtedly sneaky feel to it that is at once nasty and delicious in its witty competativeness. It is an effortless exploitation of context par excellence!

Finally, as for the many Wright-supporters out there…I wonder which of those erudite nuances lilting through his ‘graphic esporanto’ inspired them most? Or perhaps they were simply relieved by a pretty picture at last, enjoying that formal beauty of a good ol’fashioned fresco which asks no questons, tells no lies.