A visit to the BP Portrait Award

The BP Portrait Awards returns to the National Portrait Gallery until the 21st of September. The exhibition brings together the work of 55 artists from around the globe to showcase their innovative explorations of portraiture painting.

It was a show full of exciting artworks and new artists that were being exhibited for the first time.

This year’s winner of the  £30,000 prize was Thomas Ganter with his portrait ‘Man with a Plaid Blanket’. Once you are in front of this painting you are completely absorbed by the homeless man’s gaze.  It is a really beautiful portrait, deserving of the first prize. Not only is it perfectly accomplished, but also the act of painting a homeless man suggests a more humane approach to art that respects people regardless of socio-economic status. 

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1st prize: ‘Man with a Plaid Blanket’, Thomas Ganter, 2013

Another work that was great to see was ‘Passers by’ by Lantian D. How much time do we spend on the tube observing strangers that share the same space as us, yet that we will probably never encounter again? Lantian D. decides to take these observations and paint them across her canvases. She takes an ephemeral moment from the everyday and turns it into a timeless series of paintings.

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‘Passers by’, Lantian D. 

A highlight worth noting in this year’s exhibition was the selection of the artist couple’s work: Henrietta Graham and Tim Hall. The couple share a studio together. Graham’s portrait of chef James Martin got selected for the Portrait Award, while Hall’s portrait of Graham at work got his art work chosen. This allowed for an interesting insight into the intimate work space of Graham’s working space.

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‘James Martin’, Henrietta Graham for her series Great British Chefs, 2014

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'Henrietta and Ollie’, Tim Hall, 2014

The BP Portrait Award remains a must-see summer show.