Spectrum Jesus by Keith Coventry scoops UK’s biggest painting prize
A painting inspired by the work of one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century, is the £25,000 first prize winner of the 26th John Moores Painting Prize.
Spectrum Jesus by Keith Coventry has been awarded first place in the competition which this year attracted almost 3,000 entrants. The Burnley-born artist has earned first prize with a painting which judge, Sir Norman Rosenthal, described as “full of ambiguity and contradictions”.
Depicting the face of Jesus Christ, Spectrum Jesus is based on Han van Meegeren‘s notorious forgeries of the 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. The painting is a blue monochromatic image, part of a series rendered in the palette and style of the German Expressionist Emil Nolde.
Sir Norman Rosenthal explains: “Spectrum Jesus explores both the moral and religious aspects of iconography. Full of ambiguity and contradictions, the painting of Jesus Christ follows some of the oldest traditions of icon painting, with the image being repeated throughout the series that the work is part of. The fact that the painting is difficult to see is intentional. The reflections on the glass slow the experience down and allow the work to be absorbed by the viewer.”
With help from the Art Fund – the UK’s national fundraising charity for works of art – and the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, Spectrum Jesus has also been acquired for the Walker Art Gallery’s permanent collections. The painting will now join the gallery’s impressive collection of British painting.
Director of art galleries Reyahn King said: “We are delighted that Keith Coventry is joining the ranks of esteemed artists in our collection of previous John Moores prizewinners.
“Spectrum Jesus is a fascinating painting by an artist of intellectual depth. I am thrilled that we can add Coventry’s work to a collection which charts the progress and development of the last 53 years of British painting. We are extremely grateful to the Art Fund and the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust for enabling us to keep this collection vital and relevant with the inclusion of this year’s worthy winner.”
This year’s four runner up winners who each receive £2,500 were announced as:
Philip Diggle – For Your Pleasure 2009 (oil on canvas 92 x 75 cm)
Nick Fox – Metatopia 2009 (acrylic and ink on panel 120 x 120 cm)
Nicholas Middleton – Protest, 1st April 2009 2010 (oil on canvas, 117 x 203.5 cm)
Daniel Sturgis – Still Squallings 2009 (acrylic on canvas 138 x 213.6 cm)
The exhibition is open from 18th September to 3rd January 2011 at the Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street, L3 8EL from 10am – 5pm. Entry is FREE.