Friday, May 06, 2016

Prizewinners at the 125th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

I'm going to split my review of the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters into two halves.
  • The first (below) is about the prizewinners and 
  • the second, on Monday, is about the exhibition itself - and a very important change which has relevance to the other Federation of British Artists societies showing at the Mall Galleries
The exhibition opened to the public yesterday at the Mall Galleries and continues until the 20th May 2016. Catalogues are lavish and £10. Admission is £3 and £2.50 concession. Free to Friends of Mall Galleries, National Art Pass holders and under 18s

There is a list of all the events during the course of the exhibition on the RSPP website - with more details on the Malleries site. Most of them cost nothing.


Five of the six prizewinners came from the Open Entry - which is very strong for this exhibition. More about this in my next post.

The Ondaatje Prize For Portraiture

Prize: £10,000
Winner of the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture
A Portrait of Roger Scruton by Lantian D.

This year's winner is Lantian D.   Her subject is Roger Scruton who is a writer who is currently a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a visiting professor in the philosophy department at Oxford University and is leading a Masters Degree in Philosophy at the University of Buckingham. He has specialised in aesthetics throughout his career.

It's a really fascinating portrait - every part of the painting makes me wonder what it is about. I know he has a horse - but this animal looks more like a donkey (or maybe a horse with a winter coat?). The background is obviously Cambridge and I guess that it's easier to represent this via Kings College Chapel than Jesus College which is where he took his first degree or Peterhouse where he was a Research Fellow. The big brown socks appear to have a life of their own! [Update: The animal is a donkey - and Roger Scruton thought it ought to be a horse (he has one) but read the comment from Lantian D. for why it is a donkey)

What's just as fascinating is the story of the development of the artist as a painter.

Lantian D is a self-taught artist.  She followed a strict and traditional education in China and did a commerce degree to keep her parents happy.  In 2008 she then studied media arts and film production at the University of Technology, Sydney.

She then went on to work in galleries in Sydney and London, became acquainted with the contemporary art scene - and rejected it and studied Chinese art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

In 2013 she decided to paint until her savings ran out - and got her entry accepted to the BP Portrait Award (which you can see in this post - I got her gender wrong!) Subsequently she had two paintings accepted for the Threadneedle Award and this year she had a work selected for the Lynn Painter-Stainer Award exhibition

She has a brilliant artist statement which should be read by all!  It includes the following which probably goes some way to explain why she chose to paint Roger Scruton
Today, traditions of craft and the pursuit of beauty have long been forsaken by much of the art world. Postmodern Art, which appears to have been initiated by Duchamp and capitalised on by Warhol (and so on), no longer makes sense to an “un-indoctrinated” eye. The Avant-garde of the 20th century finally got more than what they bargained for. Look around: insipid jokes, flippant kitsch, hollow attitudes, juvenile anger, nauseating shocks, bewildering objects and shameless plagiarism are the daily diet of the art industry.
This is a photo of the painter with the subject - Roger Scruton. I'd have loved to have been there to photograph artist with model but alas "The Knee" was back in the knee brace and not keen on the scrum which is the RSPP Awards Ceremony.

The De Laszlo Foundation Award

Prize: £3,000 and a silver medal
Purpose: a prize for an artist under thirty five years old judged to have submitted the best portrait.
  • sponsored by the de Laszlo Foundation which aims to encourage young artists.
  • see past winners
Winner of The de Lazlo Foundation Award
Portrait of Lisa by Stephanie Kullberg
Stephanie Kullberg is from Gothenberg in Sweden. She has studied at The Florence Academy of Art where she also worked as a teaching assistant.

This is her Instagram account which includes a lot of her portrait paintings. I think she's having a problem with her website at the moment as it came up blank.

The Changing Faces Portrait Commission Prize

Prize: £2,000 commission
awarded to the artist whose portrait best conveys the energy of their subject, the directness of their gaze and an attitude that exudes openness and confidence.
  • Sponsored by Changing Faces who have been campaigning for face equality since 1992. The Changing Faces Collection aims to show the public that a person’s distinctive scar colourful mark or unusual feature is just one part of their overall picture.
  • see past winners
Winner of the Chaging Faces Prize
In the Park by jan Milkulka

The winner is Czech artist Jan Mikulka who won the self portrait prize in 2013. Jan Mikulka wins £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize. This portrait seems to have been painted in the same location as his entry in the 2015 BP Portrait exhibition.

The Prince Of Wales’ Award For Portrait Drawing

Prize: £2,000 and a framed certificate.
supports the importance of good grounding in the skills of drawing from life.
Winner of the Princes of wales's Award for Portrait Drawing
RF Head Study 2 by Graeme Wilcox
charcoal 105x95cm
One of the rather nice things about the RSPP Annual Exhibition is the quantity of very good drawing that is included in the exhibition.

This has undoubtedly been prompted in part by the fact that this Society Awards includes a Drawing Prize - and not just any old drawing prize but one sponsored by the Prince of Wales!

The winner this year is the Scottish artist Graeme Wilcox.  He attended Glasgow School of Art and graduated with a first degree in Fine Art in Printmaking. He is currently based at the WASPS Southblock Studios in Glasgow and has been a consistent winner of awards in recent years.

You can see Head Study 1 and 2 on his website

He has another painting in the Corpus Exhibition which opens at the Blackheath Gallery tomorrow.

The drawing hangs in the North Gallery

Drawings in the North Gallery

The Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award

Prize: £2,000 and framed certificate
Purpose: the most classically inspired portrait in the exhibition
Winner of Burke's Peerage Award for Classically Inspired Portrait
Trinity House by Richard Foster RP
The Winner is Richard Foster RP. He is a former Vice President of the RSPP and has had a number of notable commissions. This portrait includes a portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh in the middle of the picture and Princess Anne towards the left.

This is a photo of the artist with the painting.

In an article in The Telegraph he Revealed: The secret to painting a portrait of 35 subjects

The Smallwood Artchitects Prize for contextual portraiture

Prize: £1,000
Purpose: an award for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part
Background: founded in 2015

Winner of the Smallwood Architects Prize for contextual portraiture
Stephen with Bill by Lyn Grey
The winner of this backlit portrait is Lyn Grey.

No website that I could find so I don't know anything about the artist.

More about Past Annual Exhibitions

1 comment:

  1. Dear Katherine,

    Thanks so much for this kind and well-written article. I'm flattered.

    By the way, the animal is a donkey! I told Roger once that I nicknamed this donkey “Donkey Hottie”(homophonic to Don Quixote). Though I’ve never finished the famous novel, not even when reading in my mother tongue (Chinese), the main character intrigues me: a man tries to become a knight when the age of chivalry has long gone. Cervantes says Don Quiote dies in disillusion, while some modern readers believe that he actually becomes a knight in the end. Furthermore, Watteau’s Pierrot was also an inspiration when composing this portrait.

    When I first showed Roger Scruton the portrait, he did mention that he would prefer a horse to the Donkey (and he said it again at the RP Opening that morning). I didn’t say anything then, though I could (and should!) show him an essay by Simon Leys, in which the author writes: “In debates, the word “quixotic” is nearly always meant as an insult – which puzzles me, since I can hardly think of a greater compliment…(He ends the article by paraphrasing Bernard Shaw) The successful man adapts himself to the world. The loser persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the loser.” I still don’t know why I didn’t give Roger such an explanation (I really should!). I guess it sounds too intellectual; and I somehow think that an artist should avoid being too intellectual.

    Not sure if you watched a last year film called 'Youth'

    Paolo Sorrentino the film's director wrote the script and he gave actor Michael Caine this line:

    “Stravinsky once told me that intellectuals have no taste. And I've tried my whole life to not be an intellectual.”

    I guess what I mean by “intellectual” is “being too logical and too reasonable”. Often I find that Intellectuals on TV talk in long sentences, they explain everything, and always tell you “what it should be”. With them, things become so exact (which is a good thing, it's their job to be exact and clear). Whereas, artists tend to express “what it is”, and “what it is” is always ambiguous. I think artists are fond of this uncertainty.

    Finally, I had to correct you on a small fact ( though I really wish you were right), I've only been pre-selected by the Threadandneedles, I haven't passed the final selection so far. Guess fingers crossed for this year!

    Many thanks again for the sweet article!

    Best wishes,
    Lantian D.


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