George Shaw - Turner Prize winner 2011

I went to the Baltic Centre yesterday to see the four entries for the 2011 Turner Prize.  Three of them were stultifying - not provocative, just dull - but one of them I liked very much indeed.

The Baltic Centre - no reflection on its contents

Perhaps I was innately predisposed towards him, with his name being 50% of mine, but I thought George Shaw's paintings were tremendous.  So much of the history of art has been driven by the patronage of the wealthy and the depiction of beauty; to see normality is a refreshing change.

Having also spent my formative years in Midlands suburbia, Shaw's images of the Coventry housing estate where he grew up really struck a chord with me.  They also reminded me of the dereliction of Stephenville in Newfoundland.

It is easy to find beauty in the beautiful; far harder to discover it in the mundane and ordinary.  Yet Shaw has done just that, with great skill, extraordinary detail, and with humour too.

As an artist working in a familiar format, and one with an immediate talent that all can enjoy, Shaw won't win the 2011 Turner Prize.  But not to worry: I was introduced to a fine painter whom I'd not previously been familiar with, so I win, and so does anyone else who pays his work the attention it deserves.


Buy George Shaw: The Sly And Unseen Day at the Baltic online shop.
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