wright poses beside his piece ‘no title’ photo © toby melville/reuters

the artworld’s favourite was roger hiorns, who was expected to walk off with the turner, instead painter richard wright has won the 25th turner prize, britain’s most prestigious art award. wright was the oldest of the four artists shortlisted this year. the 49-year-old glasgow-based artist also came out in front of enrico david and lucy skaer.

wright himself appeared surprised to win the prize. also, most art critics would agree that the turner committee, which often opts for more outrageous art like damien hirst’s pickled sharks…, made a surprising choice this year.

follow the turner prize year by year. the turner prize exhibition runs at tate britain in london until january 3rd, 2010.

richard wright: turner prize winner 09 intricate gold leaf painting by richard wright

richard wright: turner prize winner 09for his main piece in the show at tate britain he has created a whole wall with a symmetrical abstract design that looks like a giant rorschach test.

wright was a figurative painter working on canvas until the early 1990s, when he rediscovered the techniques used by old masters who use fresco paint and gold leaf applied directly on a wall.

what UK critics are saying:

‘richard wright’s work … is a joyous and tantalising experience. the image never settles down. there are bursts of sunlight, the rays reminding you of an old engraving; these shafts of drawn light are set among boiling clouds and apparitions. in fact, the whole thing is like some monstrous and lovely apocalypse, its sections duplicated, reversed on themselves and inverted.‘ – adrian searle, the guardian

see a video here ‘wright makes an art which alludes to the passing nature of life and the necessary impermanence of art. the whole enterprise, here on this wall, seems so tentative, as if it were a kind of effrontery to do any more. you could call his art minimalist. but it is also, for all its ethereal nature, luxurious in its way; a luxury that always threatens to pass away, and after a while does.‘ – michael glover, the independent

‘the announcement of wright’s turner prize win is what sports presenters call an upset. but not that much of an upset. wright is a quieter, subtler artist, but one who is capable of producing works of incandescent, ethereal beauty. and here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write about a turner prize winner: the result is so damn beautiful you stand transfixed in front of it. I’m sorry about [fellow nominee roger] hiorns but delighted for wright.‘ – richard dorment, the daily telegraph