Martin Gayford is an Art Critic for The Spectator and author of books on David Hockney, Antony Gormley and more. He joins the expert judges panel for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2023 and here, he shares his exhibition highlights of the past year and advice to those thinking about entering the competition this year.
Above image: Pages from Love Lucian: The Letters of Lucian Freud 1939–1954, 2022 by Martin Gayford and David Dawson
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Martin: I’m a writer, mainly about art. Over the years I’ve been an art critic for several publications including the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Spectator. Among my books are biographic works about Van Gogh, Michelangelo and Constable. I’ve written frequently on David Hockney (including two works co-written with him) and Lucian Freud. Shaping the World: Sculpture from Prehistory to Now (2020) was a collaboration with Antony Gormley. Spring Cannot Be Cancelled, co-written with David Hockney, appeared in 2021. My most recent book is Love Lucian (2022), a collection of Lucian Freud’s early correspondence, co-edited with David Dawson. I’ve sat for portraits by both Hockney and Lucian Freud.
What have been your exhibition highlights of 2022? Who are the artists or artworks you were most inspired by this past year?
Martin: Well, for me 2022 was a year in which I spent a lot of time organising exhibitions of which I was part of the curatorial team including Hockney’s Eye at the Fitzwilliam Museum and Downing College, Cambridge and Lucian Freud: The Painter and his Family at the Freud Museum, London. Otherwise I was greatly struck by the Freud show at the National Gallery, Family Relations at Gagosian, and a number of displays at the Venice Biennale.
How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Martin: Well, they are certainly part of the game, but art is not the same as sport – and it is important to remember that the best person does not necessarily win.
What will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the competition this year?
Martin: Originality, visual sensitivity and pizazz.
Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Martin: The most important advice for any artist (or writer) is to keep at it.