BP Portrait Award 2015
18 June – 20 September 2015
Showcasing the most outstanding and innovative new portraits from around the world.
This year the competition received the most entries in its history: 2,748 portraits from a record 92 countries were submitted to the judging panel, which includes artist Peter Monkman and historian Simon Schama. Fifty five of the best have been selected for this display at the National Portrait Gallery.
The BP Portrait Award rewards its winner £30,000, as well as a commission worth £5,000 to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
The three top-placed finalists are included in the exhibition.
Matan Ben-Cnaan, Annabelle and Guy (first prize)
Ben-Cnaan hails from the north of Israel and studied fine arts at Haifa University. His allegorical portrait is partly inspired by the biblical story of Jephthah – an Israelite judge who vowed to God that should he emerge victorious from battle with the Ammonites, he would sacrifice the first thing to greet him on his home-coming. To his horror it is his daughter who rushes out in welcome, but he upholds his vow and sacrifices his child. Ben-Cnaan casts his friend Guy and Guy's step-daughter Annabelle as the lead characters in a contemporary re-imagining of the tale.
Michael Gaskell, Eliza (second prize)
Leceister-based Michael Gaskell is no stranger to the BP Portrait Award; he has been selected for exhibitions five times and won second prize on three occasions [judged anonymously]. This year his shortlisted portrait is of his niece Eliza, who agreed to sit for him in early 2014 at the age of 14. Gaskell hopes the painting conveys a sense of Eliza’s growing confidence as she develops into a woman, yet also of her self-conciousness at the time of sitting. The aesthetics of the piece were strongly influenced by the work of the 15th-century painter Hans Memling, who the artist was researching at the time.
Borja Buces Renard, My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening (third prize)
Borja Buces Renard's captured this portrait of his mother Paloma and his brother Jaime at his parents' home during one of their weekly Sunday gatherings. His father Jose Antonio had not been able to join them for some time as he was suffering from a progressively debilitating illness. The artist wanted to capture the emotion of the meeting, the missing image of his father particularly difficult for the whole family. Sadly Jose Antonio died just a few weeks after it was finished, and the piece is dedicated to his memory, as well as to Paloma who had dedicated herself to taking care of him.