The BP Portrait Award 2013
The annual BP Portrait Award show opened on the 20th of June this year, offering a great selection of portraits from both emerging and established artists. The BP employee night was a big success, and the chance to see the award winners was certainly a delight. The evening was full of delicious canapés and wine as we wandered through the gallery, which is never a bad thing. The regular gallery was the milling point for a while as speeches were given and nibbles nibbled. As we learned in the speeches, this year’s BP Portrait Award judges had to choose from almost 2,000 entries, parsing it down to three winners.
As soon as they opened the awards gallery, the night was suddenly filled with beautiful, provocative, and meditative faces that stared out from their canvases, begging to be observed. Some were almost photographic in quality and had people debating all evening as to how the artists could paint with such vivid reality. Others were more subtle, more impressionistic with subdued colours and blurred lines that were no less impressive. Each had its own style and flair, but the thing that brought the whole of it together was the mastery of portraiture, the capturing of emotions within expressions and gestures. Their colours, lines, and brush strokes all tell stories. Some whisper them as if a secret is being passed on, while others shout to the viewer, daring them to stop and stare.
The fifty-five portraits in the gallery all definitely deserve the honor of being on those walls. They are well chosen for their artistry, and the three prize winners for the year are certainly worthy of the title.
The first prize winner, ‘Pieter’ by Susanne du Toit, is a superb study of the artist’s son done in subdued colors and bold lines. Simple and straightforward, the portrait is evocative and had a great many people floating around it throughout the night.
The second prize winner, ‘The Uncertain Time’ by John Devane, is a large, colourful painting of the artist’s three children on the cusp of young adulthood. The bright colours are reminiscent of childhood but the postures and facial expressions are certainly those of teenagers.
The BP Young Artist Award went to ‘Das Berliner Zimmer’ by Owen Normand. It is a captivating portrait of his girlfriend Hannah done in bold colour and brush strokes which are complimented by the use of heavy lines and shadows.
Other artists from the exhibition include Daniela Astone, David Caldwel, Greg Kapka, and Lionel Smit to name just a few.
The National Portrait Gallery is free to enter, and these paintings are well worth a look