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Martin Boyce wins £25,000 Turner Prize

Posted on : December 6, 2011 Author : TATE
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Martin Boyce was born in Hamilton, Scotland in 1967. He was awarded a BA in 1990 and an MA in 1997, both from Glasgow School of Art. Solo exhibitions include A Library of Leaves at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich (2010), No Reflections for the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) and That Blows Through Concrete Leaves, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2007). Other solo exhibitions include Out of This Sun, Into This Shadow, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2008), For 1959 Capital Avenue, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2002), Our Love is Like the Flowers, the Rain, the Sea and the Hours, Tramway, Glasgow (2002) and When Now is Night, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh (1999). Boyce’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions such as Modern British Sculpture, Royal Academy, London (2011), The New Décor, Hayward Gallery, London (2010) and We Burn, We Shiver, Sculpture Centre, New York (2008). 


Martin Boyce engages with the historical legacy of Modernist forms and ideals to create deeply atmospheric installations drawing upon text and elements of design. His investigations will often re-stage the outside within the gallery space, evoking the urban landscape through precisely explored sculptural details. Steeped in an understanding of the concepts of Modernist design, his work draws upon its visual language with a complex repertoire of forms. Noted for his engagement with how these objects are produced, Boyce is interested in how their original political or aesthetic ethos changes over time. His meticulous sculptures bear out his imaginings for the alternative lives these objects might lead if created at a different moment. 


An image of four concrete trees made for a Modernist garden by the French designers Joel & Jan Martel and first shown in the 1925 Exposition des Art Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris has become a particularly important reference for the artist. For him “they represent a perfect collapse of architecture and nature.” Their forms recur in several sculptures both as graphic motifs and as a new, angular typeface developed by the artist. 

Boyce’s works are often articulated as a set of propositions in dialogue both with each other and with the architecture of the gallery. For the exhibition No Reflections for Scotland + Venice (2009) he re-imagined the 15th Century Palazzo Pisani as an abandoned public garden with scattered leaves and hollows evocative of drained pools, all developing an atmosphere of faded grandeur. Other installations have introduced the element of disorientation. Works can be suspended from the ceiling or confront the viewer as tall grids dissecting the space they inhabit. The series Ventilation Grills 2007 alludes to displacement and transformation of another kind: brass filigree panels attached to the wall are suggestive of portals to another space. 

In contrast, for the artist’s exhibition at Tramway (2002), a darker vision of urban experience was created. Entitled Our Love is Like the Flowers, the Rain, the Sea and the Hours, it transformed the gallery into a haunting twilight space with sections of linked fencing, upturned bins and neon lights as tree-like forms. Distinctive for the way that he employs his grammar of forms, Boyce’s sparse, intelligent sculptures evolve each time they are exhibited, exploring new tensions and new contrasts. 

Martin Boyce (43) lives and works in Glasgow. 

The 44-year-old won the contemporary art prize while shortlisted entrants Karla Black, Hilary Lloyd and George Shaw won £5,000 each.

Past winners of the Turner Prize.

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