Painting – A Dialogue

Linda Pittwood considers the talks, discussions and tours at the Walker Art Gallery on contemporary painting, as part of this weekend’s John Moores Painting Prize summit …

Artist Patrick Heron wrote in 1963: “Painting still has a continent left to explore … Painting, like science, cannot discover the same thing twice over: it is therefore compelled in those directions which the still undiscovered and the unexplored dictate.” Nearly 50 years later, painting is still at the core of contemporary art. It sometimes seems to be out of fashion, but rarely for very long.

The topic of painting is given centre stage at Painting – A Dialogue, just one of the talks at the John Moores Painting Prize summit this weekend. This will be an opportunity to hear a number of artists muse on the subject, and then a chance to join in the discussion. The backdrop for the event, helping to guide and ground the conversation, will of course be John Moores Painting Prize 2012.

The panellists are well placed to address the concerns of painters based in the regions, and debate the value of an art prize based in the North of England.  All have lived, worked and lectured in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds or Newcastle. The debate promises to be feisty and no holds barred: a refreshing alternative to commentary based around London and the art market.

Two of the artists on the panel are prizewinners of this year’s JMPP: Narbi Price (pictured) and winner Sarah Pickstone. Only the third woman to ever win, Pickstone’s work centres on London’s Regents Park, referencing writers who are linked to that place as well as themes of renewal and the collision of the public and the private.

“The debate promises to be feisty and no holds barred: a refreshing alternative to commentary based around London and the art market”

Another urbanite, Price’s work often looks fun, but there is sometimes a dark side. The piece that earned him the attention of the John Moores judges this year takes as its subject an innocuous car park, which is also the site of a 19th-century murder.

They are joined by Magnus Quaife, who uses paint to question authorship. He imagines the work of fictitious artists or reproduces the everyday detritus of life in paint. His intimate and sensitive watercolours are shot through with off-beat pop cultural references, including a reproduction of a CD of Sonic Youth’s album, Dirty.

Leo Fitzmaurice and Andrew Bracey complete the line-up. Artist-lecturer Bracey is also a former JMPP short-listed artist and, like Quaife, works out of a studio in Manchester. Fitzmaurice won the Northern Art Prize in 2011. He uses paint and paintings in his multi disciplinary practise, but whether he identifies as a ‘painter’ you would have to ask him!

The debates around painting are as open-ended as the options for painting itself. You could have an entire event based on the thought, ‘Does a painting start the moment you walk into the room?’, or, ‘Does painting have anything to tell us about modern life?’ The JMPP begs further questions: ‘Does gender make a difference to what painters bring to the conversation?’ …  ’Why use paint in the digital age?’ … ‘Can you compare one painting to another, or judge it through a prize?’ The only way to see which direction this panel takes, and to get your questions answered, is to show up.

Those in the early stages of their career may wish to make a weekend of it at the Walker, as on Friday the gallery is offering a free study day called From Studio to Gallery, in association with local studio group, The Royal Standard. Staff from the gallery and studio members will offer their advice on the sometimes tricky transition from arts education into a career as a professional artist. See you there!

Linda Pittwood

The John Moores Painting Prize summit events run Friday 2-Sunday 4 November 2012

Catch From Studio to Gallery on Friday 1-4pm, and Painting – a dialogue on Saturday 2-3.30pm 

Pre-booking essential through the Walker Art Gallery welcome desk or call 0151 478 4199

Posted on 30/10/2012 by thedoublenegative