In what must have seemed a herculean task, this year's judges for the BP Portrait Award – writer Joanna Trollope; Director of the Holburne Museum, Dr. Alexander Sturgis: Director of UK Arts and Culture for BP, Des Violaris; artist Jonathan Yeo; Contemporary Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, Sarah Howgate: and National Portrait Gallery director Sandy Nairne – pored over the record-breaking 2,377 entries from 71 different countries to establish which three works would be shortlisted for the grand prize. Those finalists are: Englishman Richard Twose for his painting of septuagenerian fashionista Jean Woods, German Thomas Ganter for his painting of Karel, a homeless person, in Man with a Plaid Blanket, and American David Jon Kassan for Letter to my Mom, a very personal portrait of his mother, Roberta. Whichever man wins will receive a £30,000 ($50,375) cash award, plus the chance to complete a portrait commission for the permanent collection of London's National Portrait Gallery worth £5,000. The winner and other prize recipients will be announced June 24th, two days before the BP Portrait Award Show opens at the National Portrait Gallery. All three finalists' works will be on view then, alongside 52 other works chosen from this year's field.
For more information, please visit the Bp Awards Page at the National Portrait Gallery's website.
|David Jon Kassan|
Letter to My Mom
oil on aluminum panel
124.5 X 81 cm
"Brooklyn-based artist David Jon Kassan, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, invited his mother to sit for him in his studio while she made a brief stop on her way to Europe. She was reluctant and in order to persuade her he had to bribe her with a painting of his son Lucas.
He says: ‘My work is very personal and heartfelt. It’s my visual diary, so my family and loved ones make up a large part of what and why I paint. My parents have always been inspirational to paint. This portrait is a letter to my mom, who hates it when I paint her. But I tell her in the painting that by painting her, it is my way of spending time with her, contemplating our relationship and time together, my earliest memories. The Hebrew text reads: ‘Dear Mom,/ This painting is my way to spend more time with you./ My way to meditate on our life together./ And all of the earliest memories I have/All of my earliest memories from you’."
oil on board
90 X 60 cm
"Richard Twose is an artist and teacher based in Bath and it was there that he first saw the sitter of his portrait, Jean Woods. He was impressed not only by her striking looks and style, but also by the depth of character in her face. Following the broadcast of Channel Four's documentary Fabulous Fashionistas which featured Jean, Richard’s daughter told him she was the grandmother of a friend. After calling and asking her to sit for him, he was struck by her professionalism – derived from her recent experience as a fashion model and from a quality of stillness she seemed to possess naturally.
He says: ‘Sometimes as Jean was talking, especially about her much-missed late husband, she reminded me of Rembrandt's Portrait of Margaretha de Geer. Jean has a similar intensity and honesty in her gaze. I wanted to capture that sense of someone who has learnt to be almost fearless, looking forward to life still but with a great richness of experience behind her’."
Man with a Plaid Blanket
oil on canvas
160 X 60 cm
"Thomas Ganter is an artist and illustrator from Frankfurt/Main, Germany. His shortlisted portrait of Karel, a homeless man he encountered following a visit to a museum, invites the viewer to contemplate the coexistence of wealth and poverty.
He says: ‘After being in a museum, I saw a homeless man and was stunned by a similarity: the clothes, the pose, and other details resembled what I just saw in various paintings. However, this time I was looking at a homeless person wrapped in a blanket. By portraying a homeless man in a manner reserved for nobles or saints, I tried to emphasise that everyone deserves respect and care. Human dignity shouldn’t be relative or dependent on socio-economic status’."