Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Jiab Prachakul from Thailand wins BP Portrait Award 2020

The BP Portrait Award Prizewinners have been announced and three of the four prizes, worth a total of £66,000, have gone to non-UK artists.

Below you can read about each of the prizewinners (they are also featured in my blog post BP Portrait Award 2020: Shortlist and Exhibition announcements)

It's very weird this morning to be writing a blog post announcing the prizewinners without having met them or photographed them the previous evening receiving their awards - as I have done every year since 2008!

The Virtual BP Award Exhibition has also opened today in a virtual Wolfson Gallery - the traditional venue and rightful home for what is, perennially, the most visited exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - the BP Portrait Award Exhibition. It will be touring (hopefully) later in the year to Aberdeen Art Gallery. The catalogue, priced at £9.99, will be published on 5 May and available from Waterstones and all good online booksellers.

This is the link to visit the online virtual exhibition on the National Portrait Gallery’s website, while the Gallery in London is temporarily closed due to the current Coronavirus pandemic.

I'm currently having problems viewing it on Google's Chrome browser and haven't yet worked out what's blocking it my view of it - but I can see it fine when using Safari.

I'll be doing my customary review of the exhibition - and will also select the 10 portrait paintings I like the best later this week.

Sadly this year, there will be no blog post of artists with their paintings - or will there. If you have a photo of you with your portrait which was selected for the exhibition please let me know and I'll add it in to the selected artists post Selected Artists for BP Portrait Award 2020 Exhibition

First Prize (£35,000): Jiab Prachakul (Thailand) for Night Talk


Night Talk © Jiab Prachakul
(1000 × 1000mm, acrylic on canvas)

Jiab Prachakul winning portrait, Night Talk, portrays Prachakul’s close friends Jeonga Choi, a designer from Korea, and Makoto Sakamoto, a music composer from Japan, who are pictured in a Berlin bar on an autumn evening. The portrait explores notions of individual identity and how perceptions of selfhood can change over time.

Her portrait was selected from 1,981 entries from 69 countries. The judges thought the work was
‘an evocative portrait of a fleeting moment in time, giving us a glimpse into someone else’s life that is beautiful, mysterious and alive. It is loosely painted and the bold composition makes clever use of contrasting shapes.’
The First Prize won by Prachakul comprises:

  • a cash prize of £35,000 
  • a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery’s Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist). 
Jiab Prachakul was born in in 1979 in Nakhon Phanom, a small town on the Mekong River in northeast Thailand. She studied filmography at Thammasat University before working as a casting director at a Bangkok production company, finding talent for advertising campaigns.

In 2006, Prachakul relocated to London where she had the ‘instant realisation’ that she wanted to be an artist after viewing a David Hockney retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery. She moved to Berlin in 2008 and began selling her pictures at a local flea market and set up an online fashion brand, designing merchandise based on her artworks, which she continues to run from her current home in Lyon. Her artwork has been seen in solo exhibitions in the UK, Germany and France.

She is entirely self-taught and this is also the first time she has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition.


Second Prize (£12,000): Sergey Svetlakov (Russia) for Portrait of Denis: Actor, Juggler and Fashion Model

Portrait of Denis: Actor, Juggler and Fashion Model © Sergey Svetlakov
508 x 407mm, Oil on canvas

Russian artist Sergey Svetlakov won the second prize of £12,000 for his portrait of Denis. The judges said the work

‘was a timeless study showing devotion to detail and a connection between painter and subject. Tenderly observed, and unfussy, the thickly applied, re-worked paint skilfully describes the passage of time throughout the painting’s gestation.’
Svetlakov finds many of his sitters on the internet, including Denis, the subject of his entry in the 2020 BP Portrait Award. An aspiring actor, Denis had recently arrived in St Petersburg and placed an advertisement on a social network site offering his services as a model in order to earn extra money.

‘My sitters are usually ordinary people with various types of social backgrounds. Because Denis is an actor, he is very emotional and his face constantly changes depending on his mood. When I painted him he was desperately searching for work and I found it interesting to convey his intense ambitions and doubts. His face is an explosive fusion of his Ukrainian, Russian, Greek and Tatar genes.’
Sergey Svetlakov was born in 1961 in Kazan, the capital city of what is now the Republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation. He graduated from the Kazan Art School, one of the oldest in Russia, before studying set design at the Theatre Academy in St Petersburg where he continues to live and work. His early career was spent designing sets and costumes for operas and stage productions. In the early 1990s, he gave up working in theatre to devote all his energies to his portraiture, nude studies and still life, and he has since exhibited widely across Europe, the US and Japan.

Third Prize (£10,000): Michael Youds (Scotland) for Labour of Love 



Labour of Love  © Michael Youds(1400 x 1000mm, Oil on canvas)

The third prize of £10,000 went to Michael Youds. His portrait Labour of Love portrays Tommy Robertson, the owner of an independent music store in Edinburgh. The judges thought that his portrait was
‘both poignant and funny. It definitely struck a chord as an allegory for a time and place that already feels nostalgic.’
The music store has been in business for more than three decades, selling second-hand records, instruments and video games, and Youds wanted to celebrate its eclectic individuality.
‘It’s a very detailed painting. I wanted the viewer to feel like they are inside the shop and maybe a little overwhelmed, not knowing what to focus their attention on. Visually, Tommy is engaging and the background is equally interesting. You could probably find something different in the painting each time you looked at it.’

The title Labour of Love refers to the UB40 album cover in the bottom left hand corner of the painting. It also reflects Tommy’s passion for music and the time Youds spent working on the painting.
Born in 1982 in Blackburn, Lancashire, Michael Youds gained a first-class degree in Fine Art from Lancaster University before moving to Edinburgh in 2006. 

Youds has a 'day job' working as a gallery attendant at the National Galleries of Scotland. He is also an award-winning artist in his own right and devotes most of his free time to painting portraits and still lives at his studio in the city. 
  • His work has been selected for exhibitions at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. 
  • In 2019, he won first prize in the Scottish Portrait Awards for a painting of him and his twin brother David, who is also an artist.

The BP Young Artist Award ( £9,000): Egbert Modderman (Netherlands) for Restless 


The BP Young Artist Award is given to a painting by a selected entrant aged 18-30 years. 

Restless (940 x 1220mm, Oil on board) © Egbert Modderman

Dutch artist Egbert Vincent Modderman won The BP Young Artist Award for Restless which depicts the Old Testament figure of Eli, a high priest punished by God for failing to restrain his wayward sons.

The judges said the portrait was
‘highly accomplished. It combines the strong and striking composition with a surprising sense of immediacy. The thinly applied paint, with the interesting brushed effect, gives a sense of depth, while the use of a simple palette and monumental structure creates a compelling and mature work.’
Modderman recruited a local bricklayer, Oetze Veenstra, to pose as his model after he spotted him working in his neighbourhood. Modderman said
‘Eli is one of the Bible’s more tragic figures. He is unable to sleep because he is so tormented. I wanted to show that tension in his face and create an emotion that lies somewhere between regret, fear and sorrow. I try to find the model that gives me the right feeling, whether it’s a friend or a stranger. Oetze had the weary look that I sought as the emotional baseline of the figure.’
Born in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, in 1989, Modderman was raised in a Reformed family and his Christian heritage provides the foundation for his large-scale oil paintings portraying characters and stories from the Bible.

Egbert Modderman studied at the Minerva Art Academy and Visual Arts in Groningen. From 2013 he took painting lessons at the Classical Academy of Painting in Groningen and in 2015 at the Florence Academy of Art. He now lives and works in Groningen. He started painting professionally four years ago after being invited by the city’s Martinikerk (Martin’s Church) to paint a depiction of Saint Martin.

The BP Travel Award


No announcement has been made about a BP Travel Award for 2020. 

The winner of the BP Travel Award 2019 was Manu Saluja for her proposal to create portraits of volunteers working in the vast communal kitchen at The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.  Her resulting work is being displayed online in the BP Portrait Award 2020 exhibition.



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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My Blog Posts about Previous BP Portrait Exhibitions


The exhibition review blog posts below contains lots of views of the exhibition in the galleries where they were held plus images of portraits (and the artist who had painted them) in the exhibitions.

BP Portrait Award 2020

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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