Nick Hackworth

Not the Turner Prize, Mall Galleries

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Now in its second year, Not The Turner Prize is — as the name makes abundantly clear — a prize and exhibition that aims to uphold the value of traditional art and implicitly attack the conceptual bent of the contemporary art establishment.

Accordingly, the show, set up by the Daily Mail, consists exclusively of figurative paintings by 430 artists, whittled down from a total of 9,000 who submitted work for consideration by a panel of judges including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ronnie Wood. Traditional subjects match the traditional styles, with romantic rural landscapes and renderings of native and exotic fauna dominating the display.

The winner of the £20,000 prize, 48-year-old Paul Bartlett, chose a subject closer to home — Doris Tompkins, his 87-year-old grandmother — to depict in his small, sincere, tightly painted and charismatic portrait.

The piece is rather better than the other 20 short-listed works displayed around it. Most of them, along with the work in the rest of the exhibition, suffers somewhat from a combination of clichéd subject matter and average execution.

The best pieces, such as Bartlett’s, are portraits. Two, in particular, stand out: Andy Christie depicts two women engaged in domestic activities, painted on aluminium that is scratched into areas of different texture, and Stefan Towler submitted a quiet study of a woman looking into her wallet.

Though any attempt to promote genuine pluralism in the contemporary art world is welcome, it would be encouraging to see the quality of the work improve next year.

To 27 June. Information: 020 7930 6844.