Glasgow-based artist Richard Wright, who created a gorgeous fresco in gold leaf, has won this year's Turner Prize, the U.K.'s most prestigious art prize, CBC news reported on Monday. It was an unexpected choice from the Turner committee, which often chooses more outrageous art like Damien Hirst's Pickled Sharks and Mark Wallinger's State Britain, which reproduced the posters of an antiwar protester.
Wright was a figurative painter working on canvas until the early 1990s. Then he rediscovered the techniques used by old masters who use paint and gold leaf to create designs directly on a wall.
For the Turner Prize-winning work, he said he was inspired by memories of traveling down from Scotland to London, to visit the Tate Gallery on the overnight bus when he was younger. Wright's delicate and striking creation is a baroque-style painting in gold leaf, which progresses in geometric swirls across an entire wall. His work has the transient beauty of a glistening spider's web, something created with painstaking detail and thorough mathematical precision but which will not last.
"I like the idea of there being nothing left when I'm gone," said Wright, whose work will be painted over with white emulsion and lost forever after the Turner exhibition ends in January.
Wright appeared surprised to win the prize, named after British landscape artist J.M.W. Turner. "I have nothing grand to say about that, just thank you. That's all I have to say," he said. The prize comes with a cash award equivalent to 25 000 pounds.
The winning artist's competition included Roger Hiorns who filled an abandoned apartment with shimmering blue crystals including a melted passenger jet engine, and Enrico David, whose work includes pictures of unclothed dolls, and well as Lucy Skaer, whose entry features 26 sculptures made from coal dust. Each of the finalists receives 5000 pounds.
The exhibit of Turner nominees will remain at the Tate in London until Jan. 3.