Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Jan Mikulka wins £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize

I had the great pleasure today of meeting the Czech artist Jan Mikulka who is the very first winner of the SELF Portrait Prize (see Self - a new £20,000 prize for self portraiture).

Winner of the £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize
Jan Mikulka with his self portrait (oil on canvas, 100x70cm, 2012)
and Alastair Adams, President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
Jan Mikulka is a Czech artist who lives and works in Prague.  In 2011, he won the Visitors Choice award at the BP exhibition in 2011 for his portrait of his friend Jakub. Jan gained a master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague and now works full time as a professional painter. He has exhibited his art in exhibitions in the Czech and Slovak Republics and completed a number of portrait commissions.

In the photo above, Alastair is actually holding the cheque for £20,000 in his hand! I had an interesting discussion with both Jan and Alastair concerning how to get a cheque for £20,000 into a bank account in Prague without setting off the money laundering controls which are so prevalent these days!  Not the sort of problem which art societies are faced with every day - but I guess one which will occur more and more as open exhibitions become more and more international.

The SELF Prize attracted 946 entries from 635 artists.  Of these, almost 30% were based in London while 63 artists - including the winner - were based outside the UK.  I gather some 8 members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters submitted work but only two were selected.

The SELF Prize has an exhibition in the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries - within the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  Both exhibitions open to the public tomorrow and continue until Friday 24 May.

Just 29 self portraits were shortlisted for the exhibition and the £20,000 SELF Prize.  Here's a sample of what you can see if you visit the exhibition.  I'm afraid other than the people whose work I recognised immediately I can't tell you who did what as I couldn't read the labels.  The eyes are improving but I'm in limbo land with glasses for that particular distance!

SELF Portrait Prize 2013 - East Wall, Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries
SELF Portrait Prize 2013 - East Wall, Threadneedle Space

SELF Portrait Prize 2013 - South Wall, Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries
SELF Portrait Prize 2013 - South Wall, Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries

SELF Portrait Prize 2013 - West Wall, Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries
SELF Portrait Prize 2013 - West Wall, Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries
The work selected for the exhibition represented a diverse range of ways of portraying the artist and much was of a very high quality.  I wouldn't personally have selected all of it - but I did like a lot of what I saw.

What struck me was how similar some of the work was to work I see each year in the BP Portrait Award exhibitions.  There again quite a few of the selected artists are  people who have previously been selected for and have won prizes at the BP (e.g. James Lloyd RP - winner in 1997, Jason Walker RP,  Alan Coulson, Thea Penna (Thea Penna - Portrait Painter) and of course Jan.

I think this is going to become a very important prize in the world of portraiture.  It certainly is great to have a prize in the UK which is not limited to painting in oil or acrylics!


1 comment:

  1. Hi, Katherine,
    Thank you for the interesting and helpful information. But please put your health first.
    Best wishes & kind regards, Sadami



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