Wednesday, July 15, 2015

BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2015 - video and analysis

I've uploaded my video of my walk round the BP Portrait Award 2015 exhibition to YouTube. I do this every year - with the kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery. (You can see more of my videos of past BP Portrait exhibitions in the BP Portrait and Travel Awards playlist on my Making A Mark Videos Channel on YouTube)

The video of the portraits in the exhibition is very relevant to:
  • appreciating the different sizes of portraits which is not so evident when looking at file images on websites
  • all those interested in the exhibition who cannot physically get to see it - particularly for prospective future entrants. This is even more relevant this year given the big increase in international entries which followed the initial submission process converting to digital. See:
As always I very much recommend seeing the exhibition in person if you possibly can. I've seen the images on the web, on video and in person at the exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery - and you really can never beat the personal experience for a proper appreciation of the works of the selected artists.

Plus I've also done an in-depth analysis of all 55 portraits in the exhibition - it involved counting!

I'd suggest those wanting to enter a future exhibition take a look at the analysis as well as the video.



As per usual please excuse the somewhat jerky movements associated with me walking and filming at the same time.

If you've got a 27" iMac like me then you can watch it full screen. You just need to alter the HD settings for the 1080HD setting - which you need to do in YouTube (click the cog wheel which says HD)

At the beginning are stills of the NPG and the entrance on the night of the awards ceremony. At the end are stills of the three prizewinners.


As you can see from the video, the exhibition as well as attracting more entries than ever before has also got more variation than usual in terms of subject and style of portrait.

I thought it might be interesting to see if I could explore that further......

BP Portrait Award 2015 - Analysis of size and type of portrait


I went back to see the exhibition when in town recently and counted the different sorts of portraits as I thought it might be quite interesting to see what's most popular. The implication is that those which are less frequent may very possibly have less competition. Which is a thought worth pondering on for those who want to enter the competition in 2016.

My analysis had three factors and 9 variables.



The first factor is size - and on a very approximate basis I counted portraits as large, medium and small sizes.  This is not scientific. It's very much a "you know when you see it" calculation. There are:
  • 24 large portraits
  • 14 medium size portraits
  • 17 small portraits
The next factor relates to number of people in the portrait i.e. whether the portrait is a singleton or a double.  There are:
  • 44 portraits of individuals
  • 11 portraits of two people

The third factor relates to type of portrait.
  • 15 complete figures (although two had no face)
  • 16 portraits of the torso - including hands
  • 2 portraits of the upper torso (minus hands)
  • 21 portraits of the head only

I would add that most of the artists who have been selected for the exhibition before paint portraits of at least the torso and always include hands.  That's a big hint! :)

Let's see how this stacks up in terms of prizewinners.

First prizewinner - Annabelle and Guy by Matan Ben Cnann

  • double
  • large
  • full figure
I have been making the point for some time that I think there is a distinct preference for artists who display the ability to paint the complete figure. One of the prizes is a commission......

That said - it's just my opinion.

Of one thing I am absolutely certain..... all the portraits which have WON the BP Portrait Award since 2010 have all included hands

Second Prize - Eliza by Michael Gaskell

  • single
  • small
  • head only
Are these three factors the reason why Michael Gaskell has won second prize four times and yet has never won first prize?

Of one thing I am pretty sure - if you want to win a prize with a small painting of a head it has to be impeccably painted!

Third Prize - My mother and my brother by Borja Buces Renard

  • large
  • double
  • upper torso

More Blog posts about the BP Portrait Award 2015


PS. I'm sure you can guess what's under the pixelations in the video - my videos and blog are not rated for adult content and I'm not about to have their status compromised by individuals who like reporting images of naked young ladies!

1 comment:

Magda Vacariu said...

Thank you, I was curious to see how all these portraits look like. Though I am a bit disappointed. I find that this competition is more and more about photorealism, there is not much room for freedom of expression there.

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