JM2016: Why paint?

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Visitor walking past paintings in the JM2016 exhibitionVisited by over 70,000 people, this year’s John Moores Painting Prize has been the most popular since the prize was launched. They key, it seems, was a sheer love of painting...

The inspirations in the paintings in this year's exhibition were varied and wide-ranging, from George Orwell’s 'Animal Farm' to a statue of an assassinated politician. Equally diverse were the painting materials used by some of this year’s artists, from Plasticine on an altered book cover to acrylic on sheets of industrial aluminium foil. Yet the theme that was explored by the most number of artists was the act of painting itself - with several works exploring the significance, challenges and value of this medium. So, throughout the competition we asked both the artists and our visitors one simple question: Why paint?

I have always loved painting.  In a world of accelerated images I have always found that painting gives me space for contemplation and takes me to another place. - Mandy Payne

gallery shot of john moores painting prize The JM2016 gallery

I used to spend months planning my paintings, but now they happen more spontaneously and intuitively, and I can perform and make films alongside my practice – Julia Warr

 Like music, painting provides food for the soul. - Sneh Mehta

A lot of what I paint is based on images from dreams. I’m really aware that we can’t photograph those images, so painting them seems a direct way of relating them. – Emma Talbot

I like how a static painting can be simultaneously serious, beautiful, quiet, dumb, knowing. I still find it fulfilling on many levels. - Donal Moloney

gallery shot of john moores painting prize The JM2016 gallery

I don’t know exactly what attracted Ben to painting, but he continually returned to paint despite explorations using sculpture, video, installation and drawing. – Melanie Cove

It’s a network of reasons, some of which I am only half aware. In part, it’s to have a dialogue with the history of painting. – Nicholas Middleton

The immediacy which is possible when using paint also allows the process to be alive and open. – Enzo Marra

Find answers from our visitors in the slideshow below:

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The love of, and need to paint is what keeps this internationally-renowned prize so fresh and inspiring year after year. We now look forward to next year when the entries for the JM2018 will open, and perhaps you could be that artist inspiring thousands and thousands of visitors.

All paintings from the JM2016 are now available to view online and many of the items in our online shop have been reduced. Keep up to date with the JMPP on twitter over at @JMpaintingprize.