Michael Simpson (b. 1940) has been awarded First Prize in this year’s John Moores Painting Prize. The result was announced at a ceremony last week, ahead of the opening of the John Moores Painting Prize 2016 Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Simpson receives £25,000 for his winning piece, Squint (19), which is one of a continuing series of oil paintings by the artist. The work depicts a ladder positioned beneath a ‘leper squint’; its title stemming from a ‘squint’, which in medieval times referred to a small opening in the wall of a church that offered people with leprosy access to the sermon.
Simpson’s work was selected from a shortlist of five paintings by a panel of jury members comprised of freelance curator Richard Davey; shortlisted Max Mara Prize artist Phoebe Unwin; British Turner-Prize nominee Gillian Carnegie; Cape Town-born practitioner Ansel Krut; and Vice Dean of Fine Art at Shanghai Institute of Visual Art Ding Li. The 2016 finalists include Talar Aghbashian, Gabriella Boyd, Benjamin Jamie, and Selma Parlour.
Jury member Richard Davey comments “Michael Simpson’s stood out from the rest, a distinctive and particular voice that epitomised what painting is capable of today. It relates to the past in its subject matter, yet Simpson’s emphasis on the process of painting, seen at the canvas edges with the different layers of colour left visible, is emphatically modern.”
The 76-year-old Wiltshire-based artist’s winning piece is one of 54 works currently on display at the Walker Art Gallery. Simpson has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions across the UK and Europe and he no stranger to the John Moores Painting Prize having exhibited in exhibitions in 1989, 1991 (as a shortlisted prizewinner), 1993 and 2010.
Running until 27 November, the John Moores Painting Prize 2016 Exhibition is part of this year’s Liverpool Biennial: an international festival promoting recent contemporary works and new commissions across the city of Liverpool.
John Moores Painting Prize 2016, until 27 November, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
For more, visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/johnmoores.
1. Michael Simpson, Squint (19), oil on canvas, 2015. Courtesy of Liverpool Museums and the artist.