Thursday, May 14, 2009

Great New Art Does Exist

I've felt tinges of guilt over the past few days, decrying Contemporary Art and the dramatic fall in prices that famous names are now facing. This is not to say that a few deserved items have'nt been exposed as in, "the Emperor has no clothes," but that also does not mean that great art isn't being created everyday.

You can find it so easily now with the internet and respond to it because you know it when you see it. Fan's of Homer know that I love portraiture,and a look at this year's annual competition at the National Portrait Gallery in London shows what great talent abounds. The top three finalists for this year's competition are all wonderful and the winner will be announced June 16th.

Wonderland magazine: "Following a record number of entries, three artists have been short-listed for the BP Portrait Award, one of Britain’s most prestigious art prizes. This year the prize received 1,901 entries, an increase of over 10% on last year. For the third year running, the competition has been open to all aged 18 or over. 56 portraits have been selected for the exhibition which will be shown at the National Portrait Gallery from 18 June to 14 September 2009.

The top three are:

Wonderland Magazine: "Michael Gaskell, 46, studied at St Helen’s College of Art and Design and Coventry Polytechnic and has been exhibiting his work for over twenty years. The shortlisted portrait is of his son, Tom, who was 17 at the time of the first sitting. ‘He was at the period in adolescence between boy and manhood and fleetingly suspended between both.’ Gaskell continued to work on the portrait over the next two years. ‘In spirit my painting owes most to Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man which is its primary inspiration and a painting I’ve always loved. The pose itself is more reminiscent of a number of portraits by Holbein, an artist I greatly admire.’ Gaskell won Second Prize in the BP Portrait Award 2003 and was commended in both 1999 and 2001 and his work has been the subject of five solo exhibitions."

Annalisa Avancini, 35, is a painter and design teacher from Italy who studied at the Arts High School of Trento and the Marangoni Institute in Milan. She worked as a fashion designer for several years before turning to teaching in 2003. This was the third time that Avancini had painted Manuel, 31, a friend she met when staying with her brother in the mountains of the Trento province. ‘His eclectic personality is what attracts me. His story shines through his face. Despite his young age his life is rich in experience.’ Avancini started this most recent portrait last summer, attracted by the contrast between Manuel’s expression, the old chair and the sunlight coming in through the window. Avancini’s work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States and she won First Prize in both the 1st Contemporary Art Show 2006 at the Museum of the Americas, Miami and the Painting Prize for Young Artists 2007 at the Verona Fine Art Society.

"Currently Director of Art at Charterhouse, Surrey, Peter Monkman, 44, studied visual arts at University of Lancaster, John Moores University Liverpool and the University of London. The shortlisted portrait is part of a series of portraits of his daughter, Anna, that explores the concept of the changeling, a child substituted for another by stealth, often with an elf. ‘I challenge the fixed notion of an idealized image of childhood and substitute it for a more unsettling, complex, representation that exists in its own right as a painting.’ The initial ideas for this portrait came from photographic studies of Anna playing in woods in Brittany where the light had a magical quality. Monkman’s work has previously been exhibited in the BP Portrait Award in 1999, 2001 and 2003 and more recently at the Mall Galleries, Cadogan Contemporary, Watts Gallery and at the Science Museum, London."

Since the public is allowed to vote, even though the tally might be still be in the hands of the board, I throw my vote to Michael Gaskell. His portrait of his son Tom, is both modern and eternally classic. This is a work that will hang in a fine place for years to come.


Rose C'est La Vie said...

I'm afraid I can't bear any of these portraits, Homer. 1. is creepy in its photo realism, no. 2 is self-consciously visceral and 3.self-consciously livid. But the National Portrait Gallery judges always love this stuff.

Blue said...

I completely disagree with the previous comments about the portraits you show. Realism versus abstraction need not be a choice - and the use of adjectives is very interesting. The personal language of critique!