John Keane was announced as the winner of the Main Prize for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2015 at the exhibition preview at York St Mary’s yesterday evening. Keane rose to national prominence in 1991 when he was appointed as the official British war artist during the Gulf War, and has continued to investigate the most pressing political questions of our time while producing portraits of notable individuals such as Mo Mowlam, John Snow and Kofi Annan.
The four exhibiting paintings from the Fear series (2013) draw on images from the great Stalinist terror of the 1930s, sourced from mug shots of arrested victims (some well known, some anonymous). Of monumental scale, these paintings are compelling portraits that tease out the essence of that most fundamental driver of human emotion usually to be found at the root of all violence – fear.
The evening continued to celebrate excellence in contemporary art as rising star Suzanne Mooney took home the Student Prize with Come Away O… (2013) and Tokyo Summit A (2012). Suspended from the rafters of York St Mary’s, and comprised of two photographic images of near-identical window frames, Come Away O… invites onlookers to partake in, for a transient moment, a figure’s contemplation of the landscape below. Mooney recently graduated with a PhD from Tama Art University in Tokyo. She observes and experiments with landscape as a theme in her work, from the scenery of her home country, Ireland, to less familiar terrain in Japan.
Prizes include £5,000 for the Main Prize winner and £1,000 for the Student Prize winner courtesy of Hiscox. It is a major accolade for artists to receive these awards, which recognise their outstanding achievement and support their future practice. Both winners also receive art supplies vouchers courtesy of Winsor & Newton and books from Prestel. The shortlisted artists are also featured in the April/May issue of Aesthetica Magazine, which attracts a global readership of 186,000 and is widely available in WHSmith, Selfridges and Harrods, as well as at major galleries including ICA, Tate and National Portrait Gallery.
The Art Prize 2015 anthology Future Now features the 100 artists in the shortlist and longlist and is available at the exhibition, online and at UK galleries. 2015’s artists hail from Australia, Germany and across the UK, and were selected from over 3,500 entries from 60 countries worldwide. A further six shortlisted artists complete the group show, spanning painting, installation, three dimensional design, drawing and film. They include Marcus Lyon, Julian Day, Vera Drebusch, Owen Waterhouse, Matt Parker and Saliha Elhoussaini.
A series of free lunchtime talks will run alongside the exhibition, providing visitors with a rare opportunity to further their engagement with the Aesthetica Art Prize and hear directly from influential art figures including curators and artists. The first talk will take place on 9 April and will be led by John Keane.
The Aesthetica Art Prize partners and sponsors include York Museums Trust, Hiscox, York St John University, The Hepworth Wakefield, Flowers, HOME, Winsor & Newton and Prestel.
The Aesthetica Art Prize 2015, until 31 May, York St Mary’s, Castlegate, York YO1 9RN.
For more information on selected artists, talks, prizes and submissions for next year’s award, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/artprize.
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1. John Keane, Fear No. 25171541. Copyright of the artist. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York.
2. Suzanne Mooney, Come Away O… Courtesy of the artist.