Sunday, 28 July 2013

BP Portrait Award- Exhibition review!

Firstly I would like to ask my readers a favour.....I have recently entered a blogging competition to take over the well known Fashion156 blog for a whole week. This would be such an amazing opportunity to not only promote my blogging skills and my own work, but it would also bring a lot more traffic to my personal blog(textilecandy). 
I have been fortunate enough for my blog concept to be chosen as 1 of the 7 finalists but the winner will now be decided on who gains the most votes! Below is a link for the competition, if you like reading this blog then please vote for my concept by commenting-Concept 1: Becky Burns!Thanks :)

Exhibiton Reviw: BP Portrait Award!

I have been waiting to go to the National Portrait gallery to see this exhibition since its opening on 20th June and I can honestly say that it didn't disappoint!

Left: Advertisement poster for the exhibition, Right: 'Pieter' by Suzanne du Toit- prizewinner.

The BP Portrait Award exhibits the portraits of 55 artists from around the world, one of which is given a £30,000 prize. This year the prize money went to Boston painter Suzanne du Toit for her portrait of her eldest son. Although her portrait is technically sound, it was not my favourite. There are so many amazing works of art at the exhibition this year but, to avoid rambling enthusiastically, I have limited myself to 3 to write about!

'Mrs.Damon and Mrs.Healey' by Teri Anne Scoble.

Although there was an abundance of technically brilliant photo-realist style painters, the portraits that caught my attention all captured the subjects' personality in their work. One of the first paintings of the exhibition that did this was of two old women sat in hairdressing chairs (Mrs. Damon and Mrs. Healey by Teri Anne Scoble). Of all the portraits in the exhibition this is the one that exudes most personality. The conversation the two women are having is so animated that it is almost audible and, as a viewer, you find yourself wondering what the two women are speaking about. From the gesticulating hand of one woman to the tilting head of the other, you can tell that they are both fully engaged in their conversation. It reminds me of the older women I used to see on my daily commute to work. In fact, this scene would not be remotely out of place where I am originally from as the surrounding villages are generally accepted to be retirement villages.

From a painting full of character to it's antithesis-a painting that makes a point of removing personality. Carl Randall's depiction of commuters in 'Shinjuku Tokyo' seems to scream a message of conformity and reliance on technology. Having never been to Tokyo I can't directly relate to what is happening in this painting, but it is not very dissimilar to a daily commute on a London tube.

One of the many reasons I love Randall's portraits is because, while the other artists in the exhibition seem to be making a conscious effort to be photo-realist masters,his figures are stylized. With larger heads and elongated forearms and hands, we recognize them as being life like portraits but, at the same time, they feel imaginary and unrecognizable. Another symbolic aspect of Randall's painting?In such a huge sea of people in almost identical colourless clothing, don't we all become unrecognizable?

Carl Randall's work and the scene from finding Nemo (how Marlon and Dory look in this screen shot is how I spend a lot of my time in London feeling!)

Oddly enough this painting actually reminds me of a scene from Disney's 'Finding Nemo- the part where all the fish in Sydney Harbour are swimming in one direction. An odd association I know, but so often in the city I find that people are all moving very fast in one direction with single minded determination and a robotic sense of repetitive routine. It is this that Carl Randall captures so perfectly and, although the painting is based on Tokyo, it is so easy to relate it to London life.

'Kholiswa' is the central painting.

One of my favourite pieces from the exhibition is also the main portrait used in the advertisements/posters- Lionel Smit's 'Kholiswa'. At face value this portrait seems so different to the other in the exhibition, where many of them seem static and almost lifeless, there is so much character and movement in this painting. In the text the artist explains that he wanted to capture the waitress's life- her struggles as a single mother and her daily journey yo and from work. You can tell he got to know the subject properly. and he definitely achieved what he set out to do. 

The abstract brushstrokes of vibrant blue seem to capture the vivaciousness of the woman's personality and the muted brown shows the more mundane routine f her day to day journey. I love how there are black outlines still visible in the painting(around the chin and shoulder areas), they seem to give it a deliberate unfinished feel as though they signify how the characters life is unfinished/incomplete/not quite perfect. In terms of technique, this portrait may not be painted as perfectly as some of the others in the exhibition, but this is part of it's allure. After so many life-like portraits, it was extremely refreshing to see Smit's painting which has more abstract qualities.

Post a Comment