Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2007
Oil on Canvas, 1370 x 1120mm (53 7/8 x 44")
© Paul Emsley
As a result 1,870 people submitted entries for the main prize of £25,000 (an increase of almost 70%) but only 60 were selected for the exhibition - which you can see here. (For a closer look, you also can order a print of any one of them.)
[Update 22.6.07: the caption of the image - and links - have been changed to reflect the announcement that Paul Emsley won the BP Portrait Award 2007]. The four in the top row are the ones shortlisted for the main prize. Having seen these, you need to know that David Lawton's work is small compared to the others.
My personal favourite is the portrait of the artist Michael Simpson by Paul Emsley (see right) simply because this one seemed to tell a story of a person to a much greater degree than the others. (You can see more of Paul Emsley's work on his website here. He is particularly interestd in the quality of form, texture and surfaces and also does very fine portraits of animals.)
I was hugely impressed with the range of ages and countries of the artists who succeeded in getting through to the final 60 - this has to be regarded as a major reward for the change in the rules. Nearly 40% came from people aged 40 and over and one chap is 80! However, taking the exhibition as a whole, all the people I know who have seen it so far are surprised that so many of the portraits are so very realistic as opposed to painterly. The Times journalist neatly sums it up as follows
There seem to be far too many representatives of this (photorealist) school in this show, artists who work hard to give us the likeness but who fail to give us the spirit.A short selection of some portraits that made me stop and stare at the Private View on Wednesday follows:
- Sally by Luis Morris - one of the few painterly portraits which I found very absorbing.
- Only for a Fiver by Edward Sutcliffe - read the caption underneath, it's a fascinating story which makes me forgive its hyperealism. I very much liked the crop as well.
- Stanley by Keith Robinson - there are some excellent portraits of children and this for me was probably the best
- Chuck by Paul Oxborough - this very competent portrait of Chuck Close has as its backdrop one of the sitter's own unique self-portraits.
- Katy does it while baking a cake by Morgan Penn - this portrait reinforced for me an observation I drew last year. A piece which will make a judge smile will get noticed and often tends to stick in the brain. My guess is this one did exactly that!
- The Times Online article "A perfect likeness, but whose is it?"
- The Guardian Online Art Blog article "Portrait of an artist's model" which focuses on one of the more painterly portraits
BP Travel Award 2006 - Travels through Wessex in a Campervan
The exhibition also contains the exhibition of works produced by Toby Wiggins, the winner of the BP Travel Award 2006. He spent 4 weeks travelling around Wessex in a 1972 Camper van making portraits of people who worked the land. He also made recordings while drawing and painting his sitters and you can read what they have to say in the catelogue. Apparently all had a strong sense of place and a passion for their work. I certainly found it an extremely impressive collection of work and was personally very taken with the pencil drawings done on gesso panels. (You can see more examples of his pencil drawings on gesso panels here).
The exhibition is open until 16th September at which point The BP Portrait Award and Travel Award exhibition will tour to Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne,from 13 October - 2 December 2007, and to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, from 14 December 2007 - 16 March 2008.
- National Portrait Gallery - BP Portrait Award exhibition
- BP Portrait Award 2007 - the 60 works selected for the exhibition
- BP Travel Awards 2006 - Travels through Wessex in a Campervan
- TimesOnline - "A perfect likeness, but whose is it?"
- Guardian Art Blog - "Portrait of an artist's model"
- BP Arts and Culture
- Paul Emsley - website
- Toby Wiggins - website