Monday, May 06, 2019

40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist

The shortlist for the BP Portrait Portrait Award 2019 was announced last week. I'd been inspecting my inboxes for an email from the National Portrait Gallery and checking the NPG website on an almost daily basis for all of April to no avail.

I knew if I went away it would be announced - and so it came to pass!!

So - one week late - here's the Making A Mark analysis of this year's shortlisted portraits - and the artists who created them.

Four portraits shortlisted for 40th BP Portrait Award 

The portraits shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2019

  • Sophie and Carla (1520mm x 920mm, oil on polyester) by Emma Hopkins
  • Quo vadis? (900mm x 600mm, oil on aluminium) by Massimiliano Pironti
  • The Crown (500mm x 400mm, oil on linen) by Carl-Martin Sandvold 
  • Imara in her Winter Coat (1200mm x 900mm, oil on canvas) by Charlie Schaffer 
Interestingly we have:
  • a completely new set of artists producing shortlisted portraits
  • three of the artists entered for the first time this year
  • four portraits all use a portrait format
  • there are two small and two large portraits
  • ALL artists painted in oil
  • four different supports were used for the shortlisted portraits
Below there is a brief summary about the competition and then information about each of the artists

The BP Portrait Award 2019

The Open Entry

This year's open and international entry comprised 2,538 digital entries (minus 129 entries) from 84 countries (minus 4 countries).

Selected Artists

Only 44 portraits have been selected.  This is a very significant reduction on the number (50+) which have been selected in the past.
  • 20 from the UK
  • 24 from international artists
Effectively this means that over time, the number of UK artists being selected for this competition has halved.  It's now very much an international competition - not a UK one. I'll be publishing my blog post about selected artists on Wednesday.

If you want a small image of your portrait included in my post please send me an image.

The Judges were:
  • Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair)
  • Gaylene Gould - Head of Cinemas and Events at the BFI Southbank + Cultural Ambassador for London appointed by the Mayor
  • GaryHume - artist (member of the YBAs and a painter but not known as a portrait artist)
  • Dr. Alison Smith - Chief Curator of the National Portrait Gallery 
  • Des Violaris - Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP and 
  • Zoé Whitley - Senior Curator of the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London.

Exhibition and Awards 

The winner of the £35,000 BP Portrait Award and other award winners will be announced on 10th June 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery, London at the Awards Ceremony.

  • First prize: £35,000 + a commission worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist). 
  • Second Prize: £12,000 and 
  • Third Prize of £10,000 is also awarded. 
  • The BP Young Artist Award, with a prize of £9,000 goes to one selected artist aged between 18 and 30. 

The exhibition will be held at:

Artists shortlisted for BP Portrait Award 2019

Below you can find profiles for each of the shortlisted artists

For what it's worth, my guess is the First Prize has been won by Emma Hopkins. She's the artist who has developed a major profile prior to the age of 30 - and whose painting of flesh is quite impeccable.

Emma Hopkins

Sophie and Carla (1520mm x 920mm, oil on polyester)
copyright Emma Hopkins
  • Age: (when she entered) 29 (born 28 May 989) eligible for Young Artist Award
  • Nationality: British (born in Brighton, UK)
  • Occupation: artist - focusing almost exclusively on nude portraits and studies of human flesh
  • Current home: London/Brighton
  • Art education:
    • degree in Make-up and Prosthetics for Performance (University of the Arts, London).
    • self-taught artist
  • Previous appearances in this award: none - first time she has entered
  • Website:
  • Facebook Page:
  • Instagram:
  • Memberships: member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2017). She has exhibited at the Annual Exhibition since 2015
  • Previous Awards:
    • 2015 The Arts Club Charitable Trust Award in association in with The Arts Club-
    • The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Open Exhibition 2015
  • Title / Media: Sophie and Carla (1520mm x 920mm, oil on polyester)
  • Subject: portrait of her friend Sophie Mayanne (a photographer) and her pet dog Carla. Mayanne is known for Behind the Scars, a photography project about people’s scars and the stories behind them.
I've seen Emma's paintings before and they are mesmerizing - in much the same way as those of Jenny Saville (a previous Judge in this competition)

Hopkins’ expertise in make-up and prosthetics has fed directly into her painting, which focuses almost exclusively on nude portraits and studies of human flesh.
“I want to understand as much as I can about what it means to be human. We are not just the clothed person we present to the world. We are the mind and body that we inhabit.”
She first exhibited her work in a staff show at the Chelsea Arts Club while working behind the bar.
She won the Bulldog Bursary in 2014. She became a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2017

Below is her Facebook post last week and this is an interview which Lisa Takahashi of Jacksons Arts did with her back in 2015

Massimiliano Pironti 

Quo vadis?
(900mm x 600mm, oil on aluminium)
copyright Massimiliano Pironti 
  • Age: 37 (born 22 December 1981)
  • Nationality: Italian (born in Colleferro, a town south of Rome)
  • Occupation: Painter and Musical performer (latter since age 16)
  • Current home: Germany
  • Art education: attended art school in Frosinone (after teaching himself oil painting as a teenager)
  • Previous appearances in this award: 2018 (he exhibited a painting of a fellow dancer.)
  • Website
  • Facebook Page: none (he does have a Fan Page!)
  • Instagram
  • Title / Media: Quo vadis? (900mm x 600mm, oil on aluminium)
  • Subject: his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker now aged ninety-five. 
Pironti made sketches and took photographs in the kitchen of his grandmother’s home in the town of Gavignano, returning to his studio in Germany for the painting process.
“My grandmother is an example of strength, dignity and authority. Every wrinkle tells her story and I wanted to capture her image to freeze time. This portrait is truly important to me. It touches emotional chords.”
As a dancer, Pironti is now well known in Italy for his performances in musical theatre, including Cats and Saturday Night Fever. However he currently lives in Germany where he has been appearing on stage in a long-running production of the Disney musical Tarzan.

He has a quite extraordinary bio on his website - with the dancing and performance artist's career running parallel with the painter

Carl-Martin Sandvold 

The Crown
(500mm x 400mm, oil on linen)
copyright Carl-Martin Sandvold
  • Age: 37 (born 18 June 1981)
  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: Oslo, Norway
  • Art education
    • as a teenager he made street art on the streets of Oslo
    • studied at the Florence Academy of Art; the Grand Central Academy of Art in New York and Charles H. Cecil Studios
  • Previous appearances in this award: none - first time he has entered
  • Website:
  • Facebook Page:
  • Instagram
  • Title / Media: The Crown (500mm x 400mm, oil on linen)
  • Subject: a self-portrait
Sandvold’s self-portrait The Crown reflects his interest in ‘the challenges of life, the strangeness of being alive and other existential issues’. Central to Sandvold’s portraiture is the belief that we are all trying to reconcile the love of life with the knowledge of death.
“The crown symbolises the peak of power, achievement and material abundance. In this portrait, it suggests that none of these things really solve anything.”
Sandvold’s studio is located on the site of Edvard Munch’s former estate on the outskirts of Oslo. 

Charlie Schaffer

Imara in her Winter Coat
(1200mm x 900mm, oil on canvas)
copyright Charlie Scheffer

  • Age: 27 (born 27 February1992) eligible for Young Artist of the Year
  • Nationality: British - born in London
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: Brighton
  • Art education
    • studied at Central Saint Martins 
    • graduating with a degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 2014
  • Previous appearances in this award: none - first time he has entered
  • Website
  • Facebook Page: none
  • Instagram
  • Previous Awards: Has won the Brian Botting Prize ‘for an outstanding representation of the human figure’ three times. 
  • Title / Media: Imara in her Winter Coat (1200mm x 900mm, oil on canvas)
  • Subject: portrays Imara, a friend and an English Literature student he met after moving permanently to Brighton.

“She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who wants to learn about anything and everything.” 
Sittings for the portrait took place over four months, with Imara posing in her warmest winter coat to withstand the studio’s cold conditions. Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its pyramidal composition and the subject’s similar attire.

BELOW are links to previous posts about the BP Portrait Award 

- AND I've been writing about it since 2007!  

Past prizewinners read my posts before they entered!


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Blogs Posts about Previous BP Portrait Exhibitions

BP Portrait Award 2019

BP Portrait Award 2018

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

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