Mall Galleries: The Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture 2013 (until 12th October 2013)

The Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture, currently being displayed at the Mall Galleries, SW1, is a collection of acclaimed works by artists from around the UK and Europe. However don't let the title lead you to believe that the shortlist for the prize is limited, as entries range from the hauntingly, and disturbingly, beautiful 'X-Ray' by Donna McLean to 'My Pants', a selection of candid biro drawings from Nicole O'Riordan, both pictured below.

As there was not a thematic motif to the exhibition, instead the shortlist for the prize, the viewer of the exhibit has to ensure that equal attention and consideration is paid to each entry, with different criteria. This is particularly important as, excitingly, every visitor to the Mall Galleries as part of the Threadneedle Prize gets the chance to cast their vote for the £10,000 Visitors' Choice award. So although there is no consistency in the way of themes or even media, deciding your own mind's winner is difficult.

There were several political statement and topical pieces among the mass, including Conrad Englehardt's portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic Burmese politician and political prisoner. Made from cork on board,  interestingly the piece is divided through the middle, physically showing the division of the world's attitude towards her. The minute detail of the individual corks collating to form a portrait shows the impact she has had and the work she has done since her house arrest in 1989.

A piece shortlisted for the prize with a different degree of depth is Lauren Drescher's 'Freud'. Hung on a wooden frame lies eighteen hand mirrors with almost comical bees-wax eyes stuck to them. It is interesting to have such a piece presented by a female artist, as we are shown how the fairer sex feel constantly scrutinised by their reflection, in relation to their appearance and actions. The eyes are positioned on the mirrors in such a way that they almost take the form of a type of grater, showing the pain of scrutiny from others and from within.

Another painting that resonates the human psyche is Jwan Yosef's 'Repeat To Remember'. Yosef has an incredibly unique, memorable style of painting, which sees him combine dark humour with flesh tones and the type of horizontal streaks commonly found in photography. In the case of the artist, their work becomes somewhat pixelated and abstracted, ensuring that the viewer uses more than their initial visual reaction to appreciate the painting. His use of repetition by duplicating the painting with small alterations and additional detail reinforces this.

The Threadneedle Prize is certainly a worthwhile exhibit, as the range of art on display ensures enjoyment and deep consideration from all age groups, both on an aesthetic and contextual level.

(I will not divulge which artwork I voted for in the Visitors' Choice Prize, but upon visiting the exhibition you will find the decision an exceedingly difficult one, as there are many diverse qualities to consider)

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