Laments and mangled canvases at Turner Prize show

Mon Oct 4, 2010 2:34pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - One artist asks 'when is a painting not a painting?', while another fills a gallery room with a recording of sorrowful 16th century Scottish laments.

The annual Turner Prize regularly has the public and pundits pondering "what is art?," and the works competing for it this year, unveiled at London's Tate Britain gallery on Monday, suggested that 2010 would be no exception.

Dexter Dalwood, Angela de la Cruz, Susan Philipsz and The Otolith Group are the four artists in the running for the coveted 25,000 pound ($39,590) award, to be announced on December 6.

Previous winners of the Turner Prize, which has thrived on controversy over the years, include Grayson Perry, a cross-dressing potter, and Martin Creed, whose installation in 2001 featured lights going on and off in an empty room.

"They are not looking for controversy," said exhibition curator Katharine Stout, referring to the panel of judges who narrowed the list of contemporary artists based in Britain and under 50 years of age to a shortlist of four.

"What we have is a quite distinctive but incredibly strong selection," she told Reuters.

The artist who questions the definition of painting is 45-year-old de la Cruz, who takes her work into three dimensions as her brightly covered canvases are twisted and contorted by the broken wooden frames to which they are attached.