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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 16:42 GMT
Turner Prize 2000: The shock of the old
Glenn Brown's Loves of Shepherds 2000
The Tate's Andrea Davies with Glenn Brown's Loves of Shepherds 2000
The winner of the Turner Prize 2000 is announced on Tuesday.
BBC News Online's Darren Waters takes a walk around the exhibition at Tate Britain.

The first thing that hits the visitor when walking into the Turner Prize 2000 exhibition is just how shocking it is in its lack of sensationalism and emphasis on taste.

For many years the prize has been more about the media-created controversy than the work itself, overshadowing what should be the most important contemporary art exhibition in Britain.

The Marquees of Breadalbane by Glenn Brown
Glenn Brown's work is a re-interpretation of masterpieces
Thankfully, this year the exhibition at Tate Britain takes precedence over the 20,000 prize.

For the first time in many years painters dominate the shortlist - only Tomoko Takahashi is an installation artist - and while Glenn Brown, photo artist Wolfgang Tillmans and Michael Raedecker are not exactly old school it is a refreshing change.

Free of formaldehyde, cow dung and dirty linen, the Turner Prize 2000 becomes more about the art than the artists.

The exhibition is spread across four rooms, giving each of the shortlisted artists the chance to show off his or her work in its own context.

German-born Wolfgang Tillmans began his artistic life designing photo spreads for magazines such as i-d and Interview and his background shows.

His collection of 57 photo images appears to be a magazine layout in search of some text.

The pictures are framed, unframed, enlarged, reduced and mounted on all the surfaces of the room.

Some of his images are acutely beautiful - Concorde cuts across the sky, a moon rises over the cityscape, flowers sit in a jam jar.

I don't want to get over you by Wolfgang Tillmans
Wolfgang Tillmans' I don't want to get over you
As a whole the work he is showing feels a little uncoordinated and out of focus but there is enough beauty and pleasure to be taken from single images on display.

Perhaps the most visually appealing of the exhibiting artists' works are Glenn Brown's extraordinary canvases.

The British artist has on display some of the most arresting images to be seen at Tate Britain for many years.

His large-scale canvases are immediately familiar - indeed he has been accused of copying - as he takes the style and works of artists such as Dali, Auerbach, Rembrandt and Landseer and stretches them, distorts them, re-interprets them.

It is an uncertain display of homage - is it devotion or derision? - but his technical ability in aping the style of these great artists is extraordinary.

The texture, scale and colour of the original work is changed, new motifs added and, bizarrely, science fiction references are scattered across the work.

In an age when modern art is derided for being lacking in artistry Brown takes the best of the old school and relocates it in a modern age.

Tomoko Takahashi's Learning How To Drive
Tomoko Takahashi's work was inspired by learning how to drive
He has been described as a "cold" artist but I am inclined to believe that his work stems from passion for these paintings.

Walking into the room devoted to Japanese artist Tomoko Takahashi feels like a return to the Turner Prize of old.

Her assembled junk is created from within as she lives in the room while working, developing her art as a bird builds a nest.

Like much installation art it is more a collection of seeming unrelated ideas than a single thread of work.

A map on the free space of the floor seems to offer hope of understanding the confusion, but it is more of a design for the artist herself.

You can pick and choose your own interpretation amidst the pipes, the shelves, builder's wheelbarrow and filing cabinets. But this sort of flotsam and jetsam approach has been done better elsewhere.

Dutch painter Michael Raedecker has the most tactile work on display - his work mixes paint with wool, with twine and patches of sewing.

His technique gives his work a comforting, child-like quality as he mixes fine art with craft skills.

His paintings evoke a sense of America in the 1950s - cool, quiet and still.

But there is a disturbing phantom quality to the work as well - a fading track in the distance, a lit barn, a crumbling pier.

Whoever walks off with the prize on Tuesday, one thing is certain - this is the most accessible Turner Prize exihibition for many years.

The exhibition runs from 25 October to 14 January, and the winner will be announced on 28 November.

The award ceremony will be broadcast on the Arts Council of England's new website, Artsonline.com at 2000GMT.

See also:

28 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Turner Prize embroiled in copycat row
14 Jun 00 | UK
Turner shortlist unveiled
13 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Emin airs her dirty linen
25 Oct 99 | e-cyclopedia
Art attacks: Don't handle with care
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