Tomma Abts has become the first female painter to win the £25,000 Turner Prize. She was awarded the prize last night by Yoko Ono in a ceremony held at Tate Britain. The run-up to the event was dogged with the usual controversy - the Stuckists had a bit of a protest outside the gallery and one of the judges, Lynn Barber, said the judging process was so farcical that it has seriously 'dampened her enthusiam for contemporary art'. The journalist said that much of the judging was done from on-line pictures of the work and she felt her presence was a 'fig leaf'. The Stuckists quoted her on Monday, waving placards with "It's a Fix" written on them.
However, German-born, London-based Abts is likely to prove the most popular winner in a long time, not least of all for actually reminding us why it's called the Turner Prize. She is the second painter to win after Chris Offili in 1998. The eleven abstract paintings in oil and acrylic (look, there's one of 'em, above right) are completed to the same 48 x 38cm measurements. The artist, who has been living in London since coming here on a grant twelve years ago, also uses no source material. A spokesman for the jury said they "... admired the rigour and consistency of Abts' paintings, in which compelling images reveal their complexity slowly over time." Less kindly, the Times describes her work as "art for anoraks" and the Stuckists went further with the geek insults, referring to her paintings as "doodles done by a lobotised robot."
Abts didn't overheat and took the news in a relaxed way. She talked about the art scene in London: "I think it's nice but every artist who's in the Prize deserves to win...when I came in '95 there was much more energy here than Berlin, where I lived before. Now it's just home." The other artists shortlisted were a film-maker called Phil Collins who dealt with reality TV in Turkey; sculptor Rebecca Mitchell who produced a cabinet for her entry; and installation artist Mark Titchner. The exhibition is on until January 14 at the Tate Britain, and those who are desperate to know exactly what a lobotomised robot might be like, can see what the winner has to say about her work on the gallery's website.
By Zakia Uddin
Image taken from bobgz's Flickr Photostream.