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The BP Portrait Awards – Last chance to see
September 14, 2014
Celebrating it’s 25th year of BP sponsorship, the 2014 selection of 55 portraits is the result of a staggering (and record-breaking) 2,377 entries. The prize has the commendable purpose of encouraging todays artists to focus on and develop their ideas and techniques in relation to portraiture, one of our oldest and most revered artistic subject matters. Unsurprisingly given this goal, the BP Portrait Award has launched the careers of a number of highly successful artists.
Given the size of the exhibition, it makes sense that each year there are subtle themes that emerge; last year portraits of twins for example. This year saw the first husband and wife selection;Tim Hall and Henrietta Graham. It also saw some very contemporary variations on the traditional theme of portraiture that seem to stand out as a group. Such as A Young Woman, Becky by Sally Moore, showing a young girl in a short dress and platform shoes ready to go clubbing, painted in the classical style. Oil’s on canvas Passers By by Lantian D depict groups of vacant, bored or tired looking underground riders sitting in a line. The winner, of course, Thomas Ganter’s portrait Man with a Plaid Blanket is the most poignant work to tackle ‘common’ almost taboo subject matter, with its depiction of a homeless man painted in the style of a Saint. Ganter wanted to convey the ‘similarity of clothing and pose between the subjects of Old Masters paintings and individuals wrapped in blankets living on the streets.’
The BP Portrait Awards are an important event for portraiture, which often falls victim to being overshadowed by more sensational or ‘current’ subject matter. There is a lot more that can be conveyed through the study of a sitter than their appearance, a more human interaction to be had by the viewer. We often forget the wealth of emotion and intimacy there is to be found in portraiture. The BP Portrait Awards serve to remind us and reconnect us with this, an ancient subject matter as old as painting itself.
The BP Portrait Awards is on until the 21st Sept at the National Portrait Gallery. Entrance is Free. For more information go to http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/bp-portrait-award-2014/the-exhibition.php
Maxine Kirsty Sapsford, Arts Editor