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Five paintings shortlisted for John Moores Painting Prize 2023

The Walker Art Gallery has announced the five paintings shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize 2023. 

They are: Social Murder: Grenfell In Three Parts by Nicholas Baldion, Light Industry by Graham Crowley, Stochastic 14 by Emily Kraus, Other Light by Damian Taylor and Champagne Cascade I by Francisco Valdes. 

The shortlisted works are among 70 paintings to be shown in the John Moores Painting Prize 2023 exhibition, at the Walker from 16 September 2023 to 25 February 2024. 

The first prize winner, to be announced on 14 September 2023, will receive not only the £25,000 first prize, but also the honour of joining an esteemed list of UK based painters who have won the Prize over the past 65 years. The winning painting will be acquired by the Walker Art Gallery and join its world-class collection, while the artist will also have a future solo display at the gallery. Each of the other shortlisted artists will receive £2,500. 

The winner of the Lady Grantchester Prize for recent graduates, those who are within five years of graduation, or students who are currently in their final year of a UK-based arts-related course, will be announced alongside the First prize winner on 14 September 2023. They will receive £5,000, a residency and £2,500 worth of art materials, supported by Winsor & Newton. 22 out of the 70 exhibiting artists qualify for the Lady Grantchester prize this year. 

Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to vote for their favourite painting to win the popular Visitors’ Choice Award, sponsored by Rathbones. The winning artist will receive £2,023.  

Shortlisted artists and their work:  

Nicholas Baldion – Social Murder: Grenfell In Three Parts 

Nicholas Baldion has exhibited work throughout the UK, including at Mall Galleries, the People’s History Museum and The Jewish Museum in London. A social realist concern has always been the basis for his work.  

Social Murder: Grenfell in Three Parts tells the story of what happened before and after the 2017 fire at the Grenfell Tower in London. The middle panel shows the tower on the night of the fire. When the triptych is closed, the green heart – a symbol of Grenfell – is visible. The writing on the reverse was added by members of the local community nearby to Grenfell Tower. It stands as a testimony, which is to be added to as the painting continues its journey. 

Graham Crowley – Light Industry 

Graham Crowley’s work has been shown extensively in England and Europe, including exhibitions at the Venice and Paris biennales and at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. He is included in a number of public collections and has also completed several large-scale public commissions. Crowley worked originally as an abstract painter but began to paint figuratively in the 1970s.   

Light Industry is inspired by luminosity in painting. The artist has always been fascinated by paintings like those of Manet. The way in which the image and the painting as its own object can be seen simultaneously – fused together as a single, luminous entity – is one of painting’s defining characteristics. 

Emily Kraus – Stochastic 14  

Represented by The Sunday Painter Gallery in London, Emily Kraus received her Painting MA from the Royal College of Art in London (2022) and a BA in Religious Studies from Kenyon College (2017). Kraus has an extensive background in meditative, yogic and somatic practices which impacts the pace and movement with which she creates. 

Kraus works inside a cubic scaffold structure around which she stretches a canvas loop. It is a shelter, a constraint, a tabernacle and a boundary. The mechanism itself — rolling bars and canvas with no end — is a metaphor for the cyclical world. To create an organic image within a rigid system whose nature is to make repetitive marks requires listening, attention and rebellion. 

Damian Taylor– Other Light 

Damian Taylor works in London, in a studio beside the River Thames. He studied at Chelsea College of Art, followed by an MA at the Slade School of Fine Art, and holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, where he currently teaches. He has received fellowships from Oxford and Yale and published in journals such as October, Oxford Art Journal, British Art Studies, and Sculpture Journal. 

Other Light is described as “something about time and something about light,” and about unfixing historical attempts to fix things that are always in motion. It explores layers and sedimentation—sedimentations of organic life, rock, paint, time, along with painting and what it can be in a world saturated with images on screens. The painting is about photography and its history, magic and banality – and a little bit about men explaining things to women. 

Francisco Valdes – Champagne Cascade I 

Francisco Valdes is a Chilean-born artist, based in the UK. He holds an MFA from Goldsmiths College in London where he currently lives and works. From 2003 to 2005 he attended the postgraduate studio programme at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in the Netherlands. Since 1990 he has held more than 20 solo shows. 

Champagne Cascade Icombines textures, surfaces and colours to produce sensations that images and figures alone would never reach. It explores the photographic medium from different angles, often disregarding its usual applications and choosing to subjectify other aspects apart from the content, such as techniques, materials and processes. 

The 2023 jury – Alexis Harding, Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE, Marlene Smith, The White Pube and Yu Hong – chose the prize winners and the long list of other exhibiting artists from more than 3,000 entries – the most the John Moores Painting Prize has ever received. From large scale canvases, bold in brush strokes and colour, to exquisitely detailed pieces, the exhibition covers a wide range of styles, united by their use of paint.   

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