London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

The BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition is at the National Portrait gallery, London.

The BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition is at the National Portrait gallery, London.

David Franchi – Sunday, 8th September 2013

Pieter by Susanne du Toit,    Copyright: Susanne du Toit

Pieter by Susanne du Toit © Susanne du Toit

The “BP Portrait Award 2013” hits the mark again, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The exhibitionBP Portrait Award 2013” displays great talents, and significant winners.

The first prize went to Susanne du Toit, a South African artist based Berkshire. The 57-year-old artist won £30,000 for “Pieter”, a momentous oil on canvas of her eldest son, aged 35.

The sitting took place in the artist’s studio, as part of a series of portraits of her family. Susanne du Toit says she allowed Pieter to find his own pose, with the condition that his hands would appear prominently in the composition – she says she has always found hands essential to communicating personality. ‘I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face’, she says. ‘Having said that, the averted gaze of this portrait, which was his choice, struck me as characteristic of his reflective character, and became intensely engaging.’

Susanne du Toit won also a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £5,000. Educated at the University of Pretoria and the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Susanne du Toit is an artist now based in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

The second prize of £10,000 went to Coventry-based artist and teacher John Devane, 58, for “The Uncertain Time”, oil on canvas, an outstanding group portrait depicting his children Lucy, Laura and Louis. A painter who also teaches at Coventry University, John Devane has an MA from the Royal College of Art, London. He has been shortlisted for his large group portrait of his three children: Lucy, 25, Laura, 20, and Louis, 15. Painted over three years, the picture sets out to show how children emerge from childhood and begin to assert their independence revealing something of their adult selves. Devane also exhibited his “In the House of The Cellist” at the “BP Portrait Award 1995”.

The “BP Young Artist Award” of £7,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by Owen Normand for “Das Berliner Zimmer” (The Berlin Room), an oil on wooden board. Owen Normand is a Scottish painter and illustrator who studied at Edinburgh College of Art and who now lives in Berlin. “Das Berliner Zimmer (The Berlin Room)” is a portrait of his girlfriend Hannah painted in her bedroom in the German capital, where they both relocated nearly three years ago. Normand says the ‘Berliner Zimmer’ is unique to Berlin: the name for a long, dark room facing into an inner courtyard with just a single window at the far end. The painting was inspired by Hannah’s connection to the city, particularly through her grandmother who moved there in the 1930s and still lives there today.

The “BP Travel Award 2013” has been awarded to Bristol-based Dutch artist Sophie Ploeg. The “BP Travel Award” is an annual award to allow artists to experience working in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. This year the prize has increased to £6,000. Having studied Art & Architectural History at universities in The Netherlands, Ploeg, 39, won for her proposal to explore how fashion and lace was represented in 17th century art, as well as in modern applications. She will visit famous lace-making centres such as Bruges in Belgium and Honiton in Devon, modern lace makers and artists, antique lace collections and 17th century art collections, as well as to undertake literary research. Sophie’s final work will be displayed in the “BP Portrait Award 2014” exhibition.

The work of “BP Travel Award 2012” winner Carl Randall is on display at this year’s exhibition. Randall travelled to Japan to journey along the Nakasendo Highway, following in the footsteps of the Japanese printmaker Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). Hiroshige produced a series of woodblock prints on his travels which serve as an artistic document of life in Japan in the 19th century. Starting in Tokyo and travelling to Kyoto, Randall has produced a series of portraits depicting locals along the route as it exists today, contrasting with life found in Hiroshige’s time.

The “BP Portrait Award 2013” received 1,969 entries from 77 different countries. Judged anonymously, 55 portraits have been selected for

The Uncertain Time by John Devane © John Devane

The Uncertain Time by John Devane © John Devane

the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2012 the “BP Portrait Award” received 255,982 visitors.

The “Portrait Award” is now in its 34th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 24th year of sponsorship by BP. It is a highly successful annual event aimed at encouraging artists to develop the theme of painted portraiture.

The Italian artist Daniela Astone, 33, who comes from Maremma, South of Tuscany, explains her feeling to be part of the 2013 exhibition: “I am very happy to be present at the BP Portrait Award, because it is known that the selection prefers hyperrealistic portraits or paintings taken from photographs.”

Astone, who this year exhibited a self-portrait, “Freddo in studio” (Cold in the studio), find it easy to participate to the award: “You only need to apply and to send the original to London. Then you receive an email confirming you are successful or not! In other competitions there is a pre- selection through a picture… to be honest, I do not agree and I think National Portrait Gallery is doing well by examining the real painting.”

The “BP Portrait Award 2013” competition was judged from original paintings by: Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Chair of the Judging Panel; David Dawson, Painter and Photographer; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London; Victoria Pomery OBE, Director, Turner Contemporary; Ali Smith, Writer; Des Violaris, Director UK Arts & Culture, BP.

The “BP Travel Award” was judged by Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Liz Rideal, Art Resource Developer, National Portrait Gallery, and Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP.

The BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition is ongoing until the 15th September 2013, at the National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Place, London.

One comment on “The BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition is at the National Portrait gallery, London.

  1. Cris
    September 10, 2013

    Hi I have nominated you for a Liebster Award visit my blog to see the rules and answer your questions.

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