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The 25th John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize Announced
Peter McDonald's Fontana.

LIVERPOOL, UK.-A painting depicting an artist slashing his canvas is announced today as the winner of this year’s John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize - the UK’s largest contemporary painting competition.

Tokyo-born 35 year old Peter McDonald’s Fontana was chosen as the recipient of the prestigious £25,000 prize. His painting, described by one judge as “one of the most inventive paintings I’ve seen”, is a provocative re-imagining of the working practice of controversial Italian artist Lucio Fontana, famous for a series of works featuring slashed canvases. It is executed with a colourful cartoon-like simplicity while invoking a range of artistic references, including the stabbing motion of Hitchcock’s Psycho.

This year’s jurors were artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, art critic Sacha Craddock and painters Graham Crowley and Paul Morrison. The winning paintings, along with all 40 of this year’s shortlisted works, will be shown in a major exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from 20 September 2008 to 4 January 2009.

Peter McDonald said: "Although the prize judged us on the merits of one painting, I hope that visitors to the exhibition can also have an opportunity to think about painting as a practice, carried on over many years through trials and experiments."

Judge Graham Crowley commented: "Peter's winning painting acts as a tantalising and provocative glimpse into the way we think. The John Moores has always been about reflecting what is innovative and relevant in contemporary British painting and this year's selection is an exceptional example."

Now in its 50th year, this year’s biennial prize has seen the highest ever number of submissions (3,222), reflecting the growing interest in painting and the John Moores’ position as Britain’s most important painting prize. The prize has historically been the turning point in several artists’ careers including Peter Doig, David Hockney and Richard Hamilton.

This year’s four runner up winners Julian Brain, Geraint Evans, Grant Foster and Neal Jones will each receive £2,500. In different ways, all the winning painters share a thoughtful approach to the depiction of human behaviour and emotion in modern settings.

Julian Brain, the only self-taught artist in the exhibition, uses a surrealistic re-ordering of a domestic scene in Special Relativity to represent the experience of adoption. Geraint Evans’ An Ornamental Hermit engages with the nature of the suburbs and conformity versus eccentricity. Grant Foster’s Hero Worship, in oil and human hair on board, is a grotesque lamentation on corrupted male idols. Neal Jones’ Bruegel Camp refers to early styles of painting, as well as aiming for “a muddy balance between the romantic and the realistic”, and a representation of modern life.

Reyahn King, Director of Art Galleries at the Walker Art Gallery comments: “All the prizewinning works are outstanding examples of originality in contemporary painting.

“McDonald’s first prizewinning, Fontana, combines art historical reference with a contemporary light-hearted attitude that cannot fail to engage. We are purchasing the work and I am delighted about its selection for the gallery’s collection.”

The prize has been a key component of the Liverpool Biennial since 1999, and is a major strand in the city’s 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations. In celebration of Liverpool’s year as Capital of Culture, this year’s popular visitors' choice prize will be increased to £2008.

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