David Shrigley, Life Model (2012), via Turner Prize
As the 2013 art calendar draws towards its conclusion this December, the annual Turner Prize exhibition has opened its doors, this time in the Northern Irish town of Derry-Londonderry, to four of Great Britain’s most prominent and talented artists: Tino Seghal, David Shrigley, Laure Prouvost and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The annual prize, which will be awarded today, December 2nd, opens to one of its most diverse sets of final entries in past years, spanning a complex body of work that includes performance, choreography, video, sculpture, drawing, and painting among a worldly group of artists that call the UK their home.
Riding an already impressive wave of publicity, Tino Seghal stands at the forefront of this year’s shortlist, having already stole the show at this year’s edition of Frieze New York and taken home the Golden Lion for Best Artist at this year’s Venice Biennale. His challenging, immersive performance works, which place site of creation with the interactions between human participants during exhibitions at both the Tate Modern and documents (13) late last year place him as a strong contender for the prize.
At perhaps the opposite end of the artistic spectrum stands painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, an African-British painter whose focus on the traditional format of portraiture and its intersection with socio-cultural tropes have earned her a place as one of the most prominent artists currently operating in the contemporary landscape. Subtlety and discipline mark the work of Extracts and Verses at Chisenhale Gallery, the exhibition that won her a place on this year’s shortlist, combining powerful symbolism with a light, meditative style.
David Shrigley, another crowd favorite, has also been included in this year’s shortlist. The Glasgow-educated artist has exhibited in a number of contexts this year, but it was his show at Hayward Gallery, Brain Activity, earned him the nomination, a show that appraised his body of drawings, video and sculpture that delivered on Shrigley’s infamous black humor with new threads of social commentary and sculptural technique.
Rounding out the group of artists is Laure Prouvost, the French-born artist whose dizzying multimedia exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery and Tate Britain continued her sensorial investigations into the act of expression and experience. Frequently delving into montage and multi-channel video, Prouvost’s works here challenge the viewer to work between assumed narratives and pure sensorial input.
The Turner Prize exhibition show leans heavily on the immersive quality of each artist’s work this year, and the final product is a powerful one. Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings feel like a calming, contemplative reprise after Prouvost’s plunge of imagery and sound, and Seghal’s playful philosophical challenges act as a perfect counterpoint to Shrigley’s bold, comical approach. The result is a show that feels all the better for its selection as a whole, rather than standing as a summary of the best artists in the UK. Even though a winner will be announced today, one can’t avoid the feeling that these artists play well together regardless.