Magazine of art press and reviews from London
David Franchi – Sunday, 27th September 2015.
BP Portrait Award 2015 was a successful edition, at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
At its 36th edition, the esteemed Portrait Award is in the 26th year of BP’s sponsorship, the contest being organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.
The winner of the coveted BP Portrait Award 2015 was Matan Ben-Cnaan, who presented ‘Annabelle and Guy’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
The 35-year-old Israeli artist won £30,000 and a commission worth £5,000, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion. The painting is a remarkable allegorical portrait of the artist’s friend and step-daughter as if they are reflecting their unfortunate fate in the blinding sunlight of Jezreel Valley (Israel). The judges were impressed by the extremely stimulating and unsettling portrait in which the artist chose to depict his sitters as though they were facing tragedy in an echo of the Biblical story of Jephthah. In this story an Israelite judge swore, he will sacrifice the first thing that greets him upon his home-coming, if the battle is won, believing it to be a dog. However, when back home the daughter welcomes him. Despite the terrible error, he upholds his swear and sacrifices his child.
The second prize went to Michael Gaskell, 51. Leicester-based, he won of £10,000 for ‘Eliza’, a portrait of his niece
Eliza, who agreed to sit for him in early 2014 at the age of 14, having first sat for a portrait for her uncle when she was a very small child.
The third prize of £8,000 went to Spanish artist Borja Buces Renard, 36. He presented ‘My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening’, a portrait of his mother Paloma and his brother Jaime in the living room of his family house. His father, who had been ill for some time, passed away a few weeks after the painting was finished.
The BP Young Artist Award was won by Eleana Antonaki for ‘J’. New York based, she was awarded £7,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30.
The awards were presented by historian and broadcaster Simon Schama who was one of the judges.
Also interesting was the BP Travel Award 2015 which is an annual prize to enable artists to work in a diverse environment on a project related to portraiture. The prize of £6,000 is open to applications from any of the BP Portrait Award-exhibited artists. This year the BP Travel Award has been awarded to French artist Magali Cazo for her proposal to travel to a community of bronze-smelters in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa.
The work of BP Travel Award 2014 winner Edward Sutcliffe, based in London and Dubai, is on display at this year’s exhibition. Edward won for his proposal to document the Compton Cricket Club which was formed as an scheme to help support and empower the disaffected youth of an area of Los Angeles synonymous with poverty and crime.
The BP Portrait Award 2015 received 2,748 entries from 92 countries, (up from 2,377 entries from 71 countries in 2014). Judged anonymously, 55 portraits have been selected for the exhibition. In 2014 the BP Portrait Award received 281,717 visitors.
The panel of the judges for the BP Portrait Award 2015 was: Pim Baxter, Deputy Director (Acting Director at the time of judging), National Portrait Gallery, London (Chair); Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London; Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums Northern Ireland; Peter Monkman, Artist and First-Prize winner of BP Portrait Award 2009; Simon Schama, Historian; and Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP.
The BP Travel Award 2015 was judged by Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Peter
Monkman, artist and First-Prize winner of BP Portrait Award 2009, and Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP.
The BP Travel Award 2014 was judged by Sarah Howgate, Des Violaris, and Susanne du Toit, artist and BP Portrait Award First Prize winner 2013.
The BP Portrait Award 2015 was at the National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square, London, from 18th June until 20 September 2015.