Since Saturday the 3rd of October, more than 100 modern artists have been demonstrating their artistic talents across Swansea and Cardiff as part of the BEEP Painting Prize 2020. Bethan Hall takes a look at how the prize began, who is involved and where the exhibitions and events are taking place.
BEEP (biennial exhibition of painting) was conceived in 2012 by artist and Elysium Gallery director Jonathan Powell. The project aspires to bring a regular series of ambitious exhibitions to Wales; its main prize exhibition at the Elysium Gallery aims to showcase the best contemporary paintings from across the globe, highlighting excellence in content, aesthetic, technique and materials used, whilst associated events running across Swansea and Cardiff raise awareness of artists’ work and promote opportunities available, allowing BEEP to provide and nurture an informative network for painters and those interested in contemporary painting.
“Painting in Wales is extremely healthy despite being ignored in the recent past by educational institutions and contemporary galleries,” said Powell. He describes BEEP as a “highly respected platform for painters” and attributes its popularity to its positioning of artists at the heart of the process, which involves “no entry fee, age, or geographical restrictions”.
The BEEP Painting Prize 2020 main exhibition is due to run until the 7th of November and features 107 artists, all selected by acclaimed artists Steph Goodger and Enzo Marra. Although this year has brought unusual circumstances, for Marra, judging the selection helped to “get through a good chunk of lockdown in a much more positive way”.
On the opening night of the exhibition, the winner was announced as Rosalind Faram. Marra complimented the “exuberance and confidence” of Faram’s painting, describing it as “a scene set with differing painterly applications and a very modern surrealist attitude, strewn with objects that sit in a space of very uncertain dimensions”. For Goodger, Faram’s work “at first appeared vastly overloaded”. She soon found, however, that the seemingly jarring elements were in fact “carefully placed and coherent within [Faram’s] world of fetish, obsession, acerbic wit and irrelevant humour”. She states that, “in the flesh, the painting resonates with delicate layering and delights with meticulous detail one can lose oneself in”.
Faram will receive £1,000 prize money and a solo exhibition with elysium gallery, an exciting prospect not only for her, but also for Powell; “Rosalind Faram was a well-deserved winner. Even though the whole exhibition is carefully selected from the hundreds of digital images sent in, it’s only when the paintings are carefully unpacked that things come to life! Rosalind’s painting is packed full of different elements and jarring bright fluorescent colours, but somehow the painting hangs together with the confidence of an artist hitting their stride. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with for her show with us at elysium,” he said.
Specially commended by the judges were the works of Ranold MacDonald, Benjamin Heiken, Angelina Davis, Penny Hallas, Alice Banfield and Keith Ashcroft. The BEEP Painting Prize also featured a £250 ‘Welsh prize’ sponsored by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, awarded to Arron Kuiper. The André Stitt Award in association with TEN supports the practice of a Welsh or Wales-based painter and was awarded to Graham Jones by Stitt and TEN gallery director, Cat Gardiner. Jones will receive £1,000 raised through sales of preparatory studies painted by Stitt during the coronavirus lockdown.
Venues in Swansea running events to celebrate contemporary painting alongside the BEEP Painting Prize exhibition include College St Gallery, Mission Gallery, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Galerie Simpson, Volcano Theatre and Swansea Museum. Exhibitions are also taking place at Oriel Canfas, Arcade Campfa, Cardiff MADE, RUG and SHIFT in the Welsh capital.
Below is the full list of artists taking part:
Susan Absolon | Edwin Aitken | Sinead Aldridge | Jonathan Alibone | Iain Andrews | Keith Ashcroft | Kay Bainbridge | Alice Banfield | Tom Banks | Agnieszka Katz Barlow | Pip Barrett | Helena Benz | Jo Berry | Karl Bielik | Fiona Birnie & Kevin Broughton | Yvette Blackwood | Dominic Blower | Ciaran Bowen | Patrick Brandon | Valerie Brennan | Jeannie Brown | Kena Brown | Christy Burdock | Trevor Burgess | Ethan Caflisch | Max Cahn | Lisa Carter – Grist | Louisa Chambers | Brian Cheesewright | John Wyatt Clark | Tom Climent | Lara Cobden | Natasha Conway | Julie D Cooper | Michael Coppelov | Gordon Dalton | Angelina Davis | Gwenan Davies | Lucy Donald | Amanda Doran | Sam Douglas | Tom Down | Tamara Dubnyckyi | Andrew Ekins | Liz Elton | Elinor Evans | Rosalind Faram | Helen Finney | Sally Gatie | Amy Goldring | Tess Gray | Gareth Griffith | Penny Hallas | David Hancock | Jeb Haward | Benjamin Heiken | Dan Hollings | Lucy Howson | Laura Hudson | Graham Jones | Marion Jones | Isaac Jordan | Gareth Kemp | Arron Kuiper | Brendan Lancaster | Rachel Lancaster | Elizabeth Langley | Thais Lenkiewicz | Daleet Leon | Graham Lister | Geoff Litherland | Cathy Lomax | Juliette Losq | Paula MacArthur | Ranald MacDonald | Gavin Maughfling | Eilish McCann | Rachel McDonnell | Sharon McPhee | Tim Millen | Steve Moberly | Susan Montgomery | Kate Murphy | Ruth Murray | Daniella Norton | Beatrice O’Connell | Tom Palin | Alison Pilkington | Olha Pryymak | Freya Purdue | James Quin | Jason Rouse | Nicole Schaefer | Luke Skiffington | André Stitt | Uzma Sultan | Christopher Tansey | Clare Thatcher | Katie Trick | Joshua Uvieghara | April Virgoe | Kate Walters | Henry Ward | Grant Watson | Emrys Williams | Fionn Wilson
For further information on the 2020 BEEP venues and activities, visit their website here.