Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shortlist for £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2015 announced

More than 2,748 portraits from a record 92 countries were digitally submitted for consideration by the Judges of the BP Portrait Award 2015.

Just three have been shortlisted for the £30,000 First Prize - and you can see them below. The portraits and artists are:
I have to say having seen the high resolution images, my money is very definitely on Michael Gaskell - not least because:
  • he's been selected five times, shortlisted three times and and runner up twice and I can't believe they'd be so cruel as to select him again and make him the runner-up again!
  • it's the best painting I've seen him do - the technical expertise used is impeccable and the portrait itself is absolutely stunning.
Below you can find out about:
  • the prizes on offer - those selected already know they've won at least £8k!
  • more about the artists - and see the images shortlisted.

Tomorrow I will be highlighting the 55 selected artists whose work has been selected for the exhibition. The portraits selected for the exhibition will be on show at the BP Portrait Award 2015 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 18 June to 20 September 2015 and will tour subsequently.

Prizes on offer

The winners  of the prizes will be announced shortly before the opening of the exhibition to the public in June
  • The First Prize is £30,000 plus a commission worth £5,000 to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection. The subject of the commission is agreed
    between the Gallery and the artist.
  • The Second Prize winner receives £10,000 
  • The Third Prize winner received £8,000. 
  • There is also a BP Young Artist Award of £7,000 for the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30.

Shortlisted Portraits and Artists

Annabelle and Guy by Matan Ben Cnaan

Annabelle and Guy by Matan Ben Cnaan
1200 x 1300mm, oil on board
Copyright: Matan Ben Cnaan
Age: 35 years old (born 23.04.1980)
Nationality: Israeli - he comes from the north of Israel
Occupation: a contemporary Israeli painter
Current home: Emek-Jezreel, Israel
Art education: studied fine arts at Haifa University
Previous appearances in this award: None
Subject: his friend Guy and step-daughter Annabelle. However the portrait is an allegory.
In my work I study and capture the local Israeli with a non-romantic yet sentimental view. The land and its people partake equally in my view of today’s Israel.... Politics as well as Historical and Biblical themes are for me like the mythological and religious inspirations for the Old Masters creations.
He's used two friends as models for allegorical painting. The allegory in his painting relates to the biblical story of Jephthah. This is the man who vowed to God that if his side is victorious in the battle with the Ammonites, he will sacrifice the first thing that greets him upon his home-coming. The convention is that it's assumed this would be his dog. However his daughter gets there first and Jepthah realises what an awful mistka ehe has made - but nonethless upholds his vow and sacrifices his child.
Unified by the blinding light, all the objects in the picture become one. The tension imminent in the moment of realisation of the horrible price one must pay is reflected in the composition. The rough wall and rugged gravel echo the grittiness and grief in Guy's (Jephthah's) character, whilst the fig tree, casting an ominous shadow, presages Annabelle’s fate. Her strong posture reflects her own resolve and her role, in both the biblical story and in Guy’s life, in carrying his burdens and misfortune. Being no more than a child, Annabelle attempts to process her tragic fate’.

Eliza by Michael Gaskell

Eliza by Michael Gaskell
(370 x 270mm, acrylic on board)
Copyright: Michael Gaskell
I've met Michael Gaskell twice. That's because:
  • he has been selected for BP Portrait Award exhibitions five times (1999, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010) 
  • he's been commended twice (1999 and 2001); and 
  • on three occasions his portrait has taken the second prize (in 2003, 2009, 2010).
  • he's already been commissioned by the NPG to paint portraits for its collection (a portrait of climate scientist Sir James Lovelock)
All I will say is that it's not unusual for the portrait which wins First Prize to have an artist who has a good record at BP Portrait Prize - and Michael fits that brief better than anyone else I know - see BP Portrait Award: Michael Gaskell's unparalled record)

This time he has painted his entry in acrylic rather than the egg tempera that he very frequently uses. The attention to colour, tone and texture is absolutely unbelievable - every warp and weft in the fine linen of the blue shirt is visible. The treatment of flesh and its blemishes is absolutely superb. More importantly still, the portrait is arresting.

What's also very interesting is that this year, Michael has submitted a larger painting (approximately twice the size of ones he has submitted in 2009 and 2010).

I'm thinking this will mean the painting offers a better 'presence' and also conforms rather closer to the sort of size of portrait that the NPG likes to have in its collection. Maybe this will do the trick and enable him to convert a magnificent track record into a First Prize this year. I know a lot of people will be very pleased if that happens - not least Michael!

Age: born 1963
Nationality: British - he comes from Sheffield
Occupation: a contemporary British artist
Current home: he now lives in Leicester
Art education: studied at St Helen’s College of Art and Design and Coventry Polytechnic
Previous appearances in this award: selected five times, shortlisted three times; won second prize twice
Subject: His niece Eliza age 14 (She first sat for him as a small child - but that painting has not yet been completed!)
I hope this painting conveys a sense of Eliza’s growing confidence as she develops into a woman but retains some of the self-consciousness which was also present at the time.’
The work has been primarily influenced by Michael's study of the portraits of the great fifteenth century  Dutch painter Hans Memling (c. 1430 - 1494) who followed on from van Eyck. (You can see paintings by Memling here). His study of Memling was triggered by a commission to produce a painting for an Americna collector and fan of Memling.

My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening by Borja Buces Renard

My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening by Borja Buces Renard
1500 x 2000mm, oil on canvas
Copyright: Borja Buces Renard
Age: age 36, born 1978
Nationality: Spanish
Occupation: Artist
Current home: works and lives between Madrid, Spain and Florida, USA
Art education:  ?
Previous appearances in this award: None
Subject: his mother Paloma and his brother Jaime - painted in the living room of his parents’ house on a typical Sunday when the family would gather and talk

The painting has forms dissolving on the edges and is influenced by the progressively debilitating illness of his father who died a few weeks after it was finished. The illness accounts for his absence from the painting and his death is why the portrait is dedicated to his father Jose Antonio, and to his mother Paloma.
‘Making this weekly event slowly disappear, I wanted to portray this emotion in my paintingwith the image of my father missing and that difficult time for all of us, especially for my mum whom had dedicated herself to taking care of him. Our living room, in which we all spent many evenings together was the place that would best capture that moment. I had painted my mother, father and brother many other times on that same couch, so I was pretty sure about how I wanted to use the light and colour’. 
Other than that, it seems to me that his painting is a classical exercise in the golden ratio. Just look at where the eyes are and how the main horizontals and verticals bisect the portrait


The competition was judged from original paintings by:
  • Pim Baxter, Chair of Judges and Acting Director at the time of judging, National Portrait Gallery;
  • Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery;
  • Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums Northern Ireland;
  • Peter Monkman, Artist;
  • Simon Schama, Historian; and
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP.

More about the BP Portrait Award

I'll be writing later in the week to comment on the record numbers who entered this year and how digital submission changed the profile of the entry.

BP Portrait Award - previous years

I've been covering the BP Portrait Award for some years and have an extensive archive of posts relating to previous competitions which I know are much studied by those contemplating an entry! :)

Entry for the 2016 BP Portrait Award opens in November 2016.

The Shortlist

BP Portrait Award 2015

BP Portrait Award 2014

BP Portrait Award 2013

BP Portrait Award 2012

BP Portrait Award 2011

BP Portrait Award 2010

BP Portrait Award 2009

BP Portrait Award 2008

BP Portrait Award 2007

1 comment:

  1. I think Micheal deserves to win but Borja's painting really holds my attention and interest. Glad I'm not a judge!


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