Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The National Portrait Gallery UK Annual Competition

One of my favorite Museums in London is the National Portrait Gallery. The Museum holds an annual competition sponsored by British Petroleum that has become a favorite stop of mine when I'm lucky enough to get to see it. I have always found the genre of portrait painting interesting. There are so many questions about how they are created. Is the piece commissioned? Is the subject a loved one? Is is a great work of art? Is it the product of a narcissist? When viewing another human being do we see ourselves or wish we were them, or in this new century era do we wince? Unlike portraits commissioned by the aristocracy or the elite of old, so many painters today want to show the warts and all. Some pieces from recent winners are shocking in their truth and some are true works of art. I love it all and just drink in the creative mind. The winners from the 2008 competition will go on exhibition at the Gallery from 12 June - 14 September 2008. To those lucky enough to cross the pond this very expensive summer I encourage a stop by. Here a few pictures from last year's winners. I'll post the winner's for 2008 when they are announced.

First Prize - 2007- Paul Emsley

Oil on canvas
Trained at Cape Technical College, Cape Town, in recent years Paul Emsley has won the Silver Award for Works on Paper (Art London 2005); First Prize in the Singer & Friedlander Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition (2002) and Third Prize in 2003 and 2001. The sitter is the contemporary artist, Michael Simpson. Both artists live in the same town, and Elmsley had always been struck by Simpson’s appearance. Elmsley worked from a series of short sittings as he felt he could not ask his subject to sit for long periods of time. The portrait took five weeks to complete.

Second Prize - David Lawton

Oil on canvas panel
David Lawton undertook a Foundation Course in Art at Chester College of Further Education (1977–1978) followed by a BA degree in English and Social Anthropology at Lancaster University (1978–81). He has exhibited at the BP Portrait Award (2000), won the Small Picture Award, Manchester Academy of Fine Arts (2003) and the RSBA Prize, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (2004). Lawton has painted his friend Stephen on a number of occasions. When previously selected for the BP Award exhibition, Lawton’s entry was a nude study of Stephen called ‘The Tough Guy’. The sittings for this year’s portrait took place at Lawton’s home in September 2006.

Third Prize - Johan AnderssonOil on canvas
Born in Sweden, Johan Andersson moved to England at the age of 8. He is currently studying fine art at Central St Martin’s Art and Design College, London where he gained a Foundation Diploma in 2005. His work was exhibited as part of the Direction 2007 Group show at London’s Lethaby Gallery. His portrait is of his 21-year-old friend Tamara. Their friendship adds a silent tension which is revealed in the shyness of Tamara’s demeanour. “This insecurity of posing nude,” he says “is evident in the awkwardness of the pose.” Johan says he was trying to challenge attitudes to voyeurism through his portrait. Johan Andersson receives £6,000 for Tamara which is painted in oil on canvas and measures 1000 x 734mm.

Young Artist Award and Visitor Choice Award - Hynek Martinec

Acrylic on wooden board
Born in the Czech Republic, Hynek Martinec graduated from the Academy of Fine Art, Prague in 2005. In 2003 he won the Academy’s Studio Prize. He has had solo exhibitions in Prague and Paris and currently works as a painter in both cities and London.

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