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Aleah Chapin won the “BP Portrait Award 2012” at the National Portrait Gallery

Auntie by Aleah Chapin (1st Prize, BP Portrait Award 2012) © Aleah Chapin

Aleah Chapin won the “BP Portrait Award 2012” at the National Portrait Gallery.

David Burlak – 2nd October 2012

“once again demonstrates the vitality of contemporary portrait painting”

BP Portrait Award 2012” closed with great success. For the year 2012, the renowned competition has seen many extra activities, including the “BP Portrait Award 2012: Next Generation” project. Usually, the assignment of the “BP Portrait Award” and the “BP Travel Award” prizes were accompanied by a “Visitor’s Choice” and “Young British” awards. Besides, part of the first prize for winning the BP Portrait Award is a “Commission” to paint a portrait that subsequently enters the Gallery’s collection.

The winner of the “BP Portrait Award 2012” first prize was the American painter Aleah Chapin for “Auntie” (oil on canvas 1470 x 965 mm), a large-scale nude portrait of family friend. On 19th June 2012, Aleah Chapin (born 11th March 1986) was awarded at the National Portrait Gallery with £25,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £4,000.

Brooklyn-based Aleah Chapin has just completed a MFA in painting at the New York Academy of Art. She gained her BFA at Cornish College of the Arts in her native Seattle and attended a residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in Germany in 2011. A recipient of several awards including the Posey Foundation Scholarship, Judith Kindler and Kyle Johnson Scholarship for Innovation in the Arts, and nominated for the Joan Mitchell MFA Grant, Chapin‘s work has been included in solo and group shows in the US and Europe. Her portrait is of a close friend of the family and is part of a series of nude portraits of women Aleah has known all of her life. She says, ‘the fact that she has known me since birth is extremely important. Her body is a map of her journey through life. In her, I see the personification of strength through an unguarded and accepting presence.’

El abuelo (Agustín Estudillo) by Ignacio Estudillo (2nd Prize, BP Portrait Award 2012) © Ignacio Estudillo

The second prize of £8,000 went to Ignacio Estudillo for “El abeulo (Agustin Estudillo)” (oil on canvas 2000 x 2000 mm). Ignacio Estudillo (born 12th September 1985) lives and works in Córdoba, Spain and studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Jerez de la Frontera, and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes of Seville. His work has been exhibited at ArtMadrid 2011 and is in the collection of Museu Europeu D’Art Modern, MEAM. His shortlisted portrait is of his paternal grandfather. He says, ‘I worked with artificial light and with a chromatic scale, mainly within the black and white spectrum. I painted the portrait larger than life size but the model was in a natural position. I made this painting because of my grandfather and his life experiences attracted me. It’s not a purely analytical portrait but it’s a way of showing a part of the human condition to which he belongs. At the same time I transmit my own nature and my idea of him as a conflicted, unstable, passionate human. I’m not only creating a portrait of my grandfather but also revealing a part of myself.’

The third prize of £6,000 went to Alan Coulson for “Richie Culver, Contemporary British Artist” (oil on panel, 850 x 590mm). Alan Coulson (born 6th January 1977) is a London-based artist. He completed Foundation Studies in Art and Design at Harrogate College of Art and Design after leaving school but has no further formal art education and is self-taught. His work was previously exhibited in the BP Portrait Award 2010 and 2011 as well as at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ annual exhibition in 2010, 2011 and 2012. His shortlisted portrait is of Richie Culver, a fellow artist and friend. Coulson visited Culver at his home in west London where he took informal reference photographs before producing preparatory sketches and completing the painting in his studio. He says, ‘My aim was to produce a direct and honest painting that would capture Richie’s unique appearance alongside his easygoing nature.’

The “BP Portrait Award 2012” received 2,187 entries from 74 difference countries. Judged anonymously, 55 portraits have been selected for

Richie Culver by Alan Coulson (3rd Prize, BP Portrait Award 2012) © Alan Coulson

the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2011 the BP Portrait Award received 341,050 visitors, the largest ever number of visitors for an exhibition at the Gallery. The Portrait Award, now in its 33rd year at the National Portrait Gallery and 23rd year of sponsorship by BP, is a highly successful annual event aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of painted portraiture within their work.

The competition was judged from original paintings by this year’s panel: Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London; Dr Augustus Casely-Hayford, Curator and Cultural Historian; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery; Martin Jennings, Sculptor; Nicola Kalinsky, Interim Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery; and Des Violaris, Director UK Arts & Culture, BP.

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘Aleah Chapin’s portrait is ambitious and beautifully painted, with superbly controlled colour and tone. She is a very deserving winner of the 2012 BP Award, which once again demonstrates the vitality of contemporary portrait painting around the world.’

Supported by BP, the exhibition will tour to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, from 3 November 2012 until 27 January 2013 and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter from 9 February until 19 May 2013.

From 21st June until 23rd September 2012

At the National Portrait Gallery, 2 St. Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE, London.

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