Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Miriam Escofet wins BP Portrait Award 2018

Miriam Escofet has won the £35,000 BP Portrait Award 2018 for a portrait of her mother Alma. 

She won the First Prize in this prestigious and truly international portrait competition from an entry which included portraits from artists living in 88 countries. Each artist was allowed to submit just one portrait - making 2,667 entries in total....

There was a big cheer when the winner was announced at the Awards Ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery last night - and it's very evident from my Facebook Page that she is a very popular winner

Miriam Escofet with her BP Portrait Award 2018 trophy and her portrait of her mother 

Below you can see a list of the Awards and who won what - but it's not a short post not least because of the number of photos from last night's Awards Ceremony which I attended. You can read more about each of the artists in the profiles contained in BP Portrait Award 2018 - The Shortlist

Over the next few days I'll continue to post about the BP Portrait Exhibition 2018 and the prizewinners. There will be:
  • a video of the exhibition and a review of the exhibition 
  • plus photos of artists with their paintings 
  • and hopefully interviews with one or more of the prizewinners.

Judges: While the initial entry was online, the long list was judged from original paintings by this year’s panel:
  • Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair)
  • Dr Caroline Bressey, Cultural and Historical Geographer, University College, London
  • Rosie Broadley, Head of Collection Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) and Senior Curator, 20th-Century Collections, National Portrait Gallery
  • Glenn Brown, Artist
  • Rosie Millard, Journalist and Broadcaster
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP
Personally, I'd like to see a return to the more detailed Judges comments on the finalists which we have seen in recent years. If you can distinguish between prizewinners then you must be able to articulate why!

The Awards were presented by guest speaker Lily Cole, with Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Bob Dudley, CEO of BP - in some extremely peculiar green lighting!

BP Portrait Award - First Prize: Miriam Escofet 

Miriam Escofet has won the BP Portrait Award First prize of £35,000. In addition, she also has the prospect of being offered a £7,000 portrait commission by the National Portrait Gallery. 

I was pretty confident this painting was going to win first prize and said as much at the shortlisting stage
This portrait is not what it seems - metaphor very definitely plays a part. I'm personally completely intrigued by the dishes that are there and not there (see right hand side) - and the little angel figurine which appears to be scooting across the painting from right to left. You'll need to see it up close at the NPG to see what I mean. There's very definitely 'layers' in this painting which are not immediately apparent at first glance. That and the fact that the painting is also meticulous - and I'm talking down to the weave in the linen.....
One of the Judges, Rosie Millard commented
‘The crisp tablecloth and china are rendered so beautifully – and then you see that one of the plates and a winged sculpture on the table appear to be moving which adds a surreal quality to the portrait. It is also a very sensitive depiction of an elderly sitter.’
Escofet says she was also conscious whilst painting that she wanted to
‘transmit an idea of the Universal Mother, who is at the centre of our psyche and emotional world..... My mother has a wonderful inner stillness and calm that I really wanted to convey in this work. She is at the centre of the pictorial space and the perspective of the tea crockery leads to a vanishing point contained within her.‘
An Angel At My Table by Miriam Escofet
© Miriam Escofet
the unifying passion in all my paintings is describing a sense of space, volume, atmosphere and detail, arriving at a kind of hyper real expression of the subject matter.....I keep working at a piece until I feel that I have arrived at an expression of palpable space.
It's certainly a very striking portrait - and painted absolutely impeccably in technical terms.

Having had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Escofet last might I can also tell you that this is also a very striking likeness!

Miriam and Alma Escofet, painter and model, daughter and mother
I first saw this painting at the 2017 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition where Miriam exhibited a pastel study for this work. In the study you can see the grid lines mapped out in relation to depth and perspective; the colour is more distinctly 'grey' and there is less crockery on the table. However her mother's pose is identical.

Pastel Study of Miriam Escofet's Mother for "An Angel at my Table"
(1000mm x 700mm, oil on linen over panel)
© Miriam Escofet
Both study and painting have a very strong sense of space and perspective - and impeccable rendition in both the pastel study and the oil painting,  in terms of volume and tone. However between the study and the painting, it appears the the element of time has crept into the equation.  While her mother sits calmly surveying something to her left, the Angel in the foreground appears to have taken flight - and the dish has also moved.

What is also curious is how the inclusion of more colour in the painting really lifts the monochrome palette and tones within the paintings.

Miriam Escofet has previously been selected for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition on four occasions - in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.  She is also an elected Associate Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (in 2014) and I think we can expect that she will now be elected to full membership in pretty short order.

She is by far the most experienced portrait painter of those selected for the shortlist and I think a number of BP Portrait Award Fans (including me) expected her to win.

It was certainly a very popular win at the Awards Ceremony last night!

You can see more details of her profile in this post.

Second Prize (£12,000): Felicia Forte

Felicia Forte receives the BP Portrait Award - Second Prize
Felicia Forte won the £12,000 Second Prize for Time Traveller, Matthew Napping - which is a very large and colourful painting of her partner Matthew DeJong asleep in bed.

Felicia Forte celebrating her £12,000 Second Prize
Time Traveller, Matthew Napping, 
(1830mm x 1830mm, oil on linen)
copyright Felicia Forte

Forte says she was struck by the beautiful contrasts in the scene - the ‘cool light from the window meeting intense red light from the bedside lamp and the loneliness of the sleeper amidst the festive colours.’ The portrait was the culmination of a body of new work made in residence summer 2017 at Redbull House of Art in Detroit.

Being selected for a second time for the BP Portrait Award has netted this American artist and teacher the Second Prize of £12,000.

Felicia Forte was first selected for the BP Portrait Award in 2015 with a portrait called Self-Portrait, Melting Point which had been her first self-portrait for several years.  

The bonus of not winning First Prize is that she gets to enter the competition again in future if she wants to!

I think there was a bit of suspense and frisson after the third prize was announced - as the prizes are announced in reverse order.  Was a portrait which doesn't include a face going to win the top prize?

As I suspected, the judges while very much liking a work which challenges what a portrait should look like - and it's good to see such works getting into this exhibition - decided to stick with the more conventional rendition which are always both popular and accessible.

Third Prize (£10,000) - Zhu Tongyao

Zhu Tongyao pictured before the Awards Ceremony with his portrait of Simone
(540mm x 460mm, oil on canvas)
© Zhu Tongyao
The third prize went to the Chinese artists Zhu Tongyao (just 30) or Tongyao Zhu according to Facebook

His studies included a Bachelor of Mural Painting degree at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts which was then followed by an MA in painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze - and a stay in Florence.

Simone was painted while Tongyao was studying in Italy. The portrait depicts Simone, the child of the artist’s neighbours who took care of Tongyao during his stay. The painting shows Simone with a joyful expression on his face reflecting the peace that his family brought to him. The work captures a moment when the boy sat down and the sunlight fell on his face, which Tongyao says ‘recalled my cherished memory of happy time spent with his family.’

BP Portrait Award Third PrizeZhu Tongyao receives his award

The Young Artist's Award (£9,000) - Ania Hobson

Ania Hobson receives her Young Artist Award 2018
Ania Hobson's prize-winning painting is a combined self-portrait and a portrait of her sister-in-law Stevie Dix - who also attended the Awards Ceremony last night

The Young Artist Award
A Portrait of two Female Painters by Ania Hobson

oil on canvas, 1600 x 1200,
© Ania Hobson

The BP Travel Award 2018 (£8,000)

Robert Seidel won the BP Travel Award 2018, an annual prize to enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. This Berlin born artist, now lives and works in Leipzig and proposes to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes.

Robert Seidel being presented with his award by Lily Cole
Anybody who enters the BP Portrait Award can also enter a submission for the BP Travel Award - except the shortlisted artists for the main award. It's also been won by people like Gareth Reid (see BP Travel Award: Gareth Reid and the Finnish winter bathers) who have subsequently gone on to win other major awards for their portraiture

The exhibition will include a display by the Travel Award Winner 2017

The Travel Award 2018 winner was selected by 
  • Rosie Broadley, Head of Collection Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) and Senior Curator, 20th-Century Collections, National Portrait Gallery; 
  • Benjamin Sullivan, Artist and winner of the BP Portrait Award 2017, 
  • Tony Wheeler, Co-Founder of Lonely Planet and 
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP.

About the Awards and the Exhibition

The BP Portrait Award Exhibition opens to the public at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday.

The prizewinning portraits will be on display during 2018/19 at the following venues:

Previous posts about the BP Portrait Award 2018

Blogs Posts about Previous BP Portrait Exhibitions

BP Portrait Award 2017


BP Portrait Award 2016

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

              More information

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