New Zealand artist nominated for prestigious Turner Prize

1 May 2018

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Luke Willis Thompson 'autoportrait', 2017 installation view: Chisenhale Gallery, London (commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create.) Photo: Andy Keate. Image courtesy the artist, Hopkinson Mossman, Nagel Draxler, Cologne.

New Zealand artist Luke Willis Thompson has been nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize.

One of the world’s most renowned visual arts awards, the £25,000 Turner Prize is awarded annually to an artist working in Britain for an outstanding exhibition, or other presentation, the year before. 

Thompson’s work will be exhibited at Tate Britain from September 2018 to January 2019 along with work by the other shortlisted artists with the winner announced in December.

Thompson was nominated for autoportrait, a work commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery in partnership with Create and with support from Creative New Zealand. 

The work is a portrait of Diamond Reynolds. In July 2016, Reynolds broadcast via Facebook Live the moments immediately after the fatal shooting of her partner Philando Castile by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota. In November 2016, Thompson established a conversation with Reynolds and her lawyer, and invited Reynolds to work with him on the production of an artwork.

Described as an aesthetic response that is a kind of ‘sister-image’ to Reynolds’ broadcast, autoportrait is a moving, silent portrait shot in 35mm, black and white film.

Thompson, who is part Fijian, is one of four artists shortlisted for the world-renowned prize and is just the second New Zealander to be nominated. The winner will be announced live by the BBC.

Since the work’s debut at Chisenhale Gallery during 2017, autoportrait has been shown at Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland and as part of the artist’s first large-scale solo exhibition in New Zealand presented by the Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, during the 2018 New Zealand Festival.

Thompson’s autoportrait has also been nominated for the 2018 Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize. It is currently on show in London at The Photographers’ Gallery and will be exhibited later this year at MMK in Frankfurt. The work will also be exhibited during the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (9 June – 9 September 2018).

Luke Willis Thompson (b. 1988, Auckland) graduated with an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2010. His Alma mater recently announced Luke was its Young Alumnus of the Year for 2018. In 2014 he was awarded the Walters Prize and in 2015 he completed his Meisterschule at Städelschule, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Frankfurt am Main.