Diamonds, crystals and bare backsides – it's Turner time!

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Jury goes for showmanship and theatricality in £25,000 prize show

Ever since its conception, the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize has been attacked and pilloried for its left-field choice of artists to represent the best in contemporary art.

And every year, the gallery defends its shortlisted contenders as serious-minded artists rather than publicity-hungry showmen and women.

This time round, however, Turner Prize judges are making no apologies for the flamboyance of their shortlist. They may have just thrown down the gauntlet to the traditionalists by coming up with the most uncompromised selection for years; a list of four who appear to have a similar level of showmanship to the Young British Artists of the 1990s who made the Turner Prize the visual arts "spectacle" of the year.

There is Enrico David, 43, an Italian-born artist who surpasses at creating a "camp theatricality" in his textile figures of bare-buttocked builders, club-wielding harlequins, dandies and masked commedia dell'arte silhouettes, who is favoured by the likes of Charles Saatchi.

He has been nominated for his solo exhibitions "How do you Love Dzzzzt By Mammy?" in Basel and "Bulbous Marauder" at the Seattle Art Museum. His work has been described as both "seductive and degenerate" and his pieces include wood-cuts of himself, trousers dropped, against a wooden doll.

Roger Hiorns, 34, is a sculptor known for his "chemical interventions". His work has included an installation from a gutter with a flame emanating from it outside Tate Britain.

Last year, he produced Seizure, in which he swamped a condemned London flat with copper sulphate crystals which Tate described as "a magical cave of blue crystals" and for which he is partly nominated for the Turner prize.

Lucy Skaer, also 34, has created public artwork which involved taking up a paving stone in Glasgow, placing a diamond and a scorpion on a pavement in Amsterdam, and sneaking a moth and butterfly pupae into a criminal court in the hope they would hatch mid-trial.

The only curveball among the outrageous list of nominees is the highly established Richard Wright, 49, who draws on gallery walls and is listed by the powerful gallerist Larry Gagosian as one of the most important artists alongside Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

Stephen Deuchar, director of Tate Britain and chair of judges, said that while Wright's work was "discreet and self-effacing", the others showed a sense of bold performance and "flamboyance".

"There is a certain performance quality or showmanship to them," he added.

Dr Andrea Schlieker, who is among the five-strong jury which includes the broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, said all the nominees had a sense of the "alchemical and magical" about their work. She said all four artists also presented a return to the traditional art of drawing as well as hand-crafted material.

"They often take cheap materials and transform them into something exquisite," she said.

The prize, established in 1984, is awarded to a British artist under 50 years of age for an outstanding exhibition over the past 12 months.

Work by the four shortlisted artists will be shown in an exhibition at Tate Britain, opening 7 October, and the winner of the £25,000 prize will be announced in December.

Critic's verdict: Michael Glover

Richard Wright

Wright is a draughtsman who often turns up to do his work in situ. It's not usually preconceived. He looks at a space and sets to work, drawing and drawing with his hand, laboriously. It could be any of a great variety of things – baroque curlicues in a rhythmical formation, or a mixture of geometrical shapes overlaid with circles. He tries to impose a new rhythm upon any space where he works, depending upon the nature of the drawn dance he's proposing, with a kind of shy, courteous delicacy. It's all quite unemphatic – especially given the fact that the drawings often get painted over after the exhibition is closed. So Wright is into evanescence, vanishing, ego suppression. How un-Turner can you get?

Lucy Skaer

Skaer bases a lot of what she does on found photographic images, as in a fine piece that was recently exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery called Diagrams and Banners. Here we stared at a curiously ghostly image of a dead man, with blood coursing down his face, and painted, fairly faintly and delicately, in red enamels. But this image – which seemed to be receding from us as we examine it – slowly melded with and merged into another image, the patterning of a chinese bowl. So what began in a randomly chosen photographic source first of all changes into a painting, and then ended up as a kind of eerily shifting collage. It was work of real subtlety.

Roger Hiorns

Hiorns is certainly a spectacle man. In Seizure, it felt like walking around the interior of a giant gemstone-encrusted cave. Over at Tate Britain on another occasion, a fire grate out in the street was suddenly seen to spout a jet of flame. The flames of Hades had risen to the surface! The only thing missing were the howls of the damned. So if art is about all-enveloping, in-your-face spectacle, and if the only truly thrilling and soul-stirring night of the year is Firework Night, Hiorns is your man. But isn't no-holds-barred spectacle really the role of popular entertainment?

Enrico David

His pieces posture and fling themselves about exhibitionistically. They are loosely in the tradition of commedia dell'arte, but crude and unsophisticated by comparison, too intent to hammer home tediously obvious points about gender politics. They are folksy – he is fond of needlework. They are screamingly, if not jarringly, colourful but lack delicacy or profundity. This man is keen to be applauded for being outrageous and desperate to make works that look swooningly pretty. This vamped-up, look-at-me-and-what-I've-done-sweetie manner palls after five seconds of close examination.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power