I recently visited the BP portrait award at The National Portrait Gallery. The BP Portrait award is in its 37th year and shows the very best of contemporary portrait painting. The bar is raised every year and this year the shortlist of 15 paintings were made from a record of 2,557 submissions.
James and I walked around and were blown away by the quality of the work, each one a masterpiece in its own right. There were some really remarkable approaches to portraiture, one was a reflection of the artist in his i-phone.
I have picked two paintings which were my favourite this year. The first one is a painting by Jean-Paul Tibbles. He is a British artist and this the third painting which has been shortlisted for the BPA. What I really loved about this painting was the subtlety but the intensity of it. He paints the features almost close to realism but then blends out from the middle and makes the background loose with lovely brush marks. I liked the size of this piece, I think it is really powerful when faces are painted big forcing you to engage with these overpowering features. Out of all the pieces in the show, this portraits eyes followed me around the room. Its a very engaging piece, the longer you look at him the deeper you feel you sink into his expression. On top of this I find it calming, his face his calming and the way it is painted is calming.
The second portrait which was my favourite was by Joshua LaRock a New York based artist and it was a portrait of his wife. Joshua LeRock is a classic realist painter and his work looks like it could be the work of an old master. I found this portrait just utterly beautiful. I am drawn in by the romance, dark eyes and the seduction. I love the simplicity, the way that it is half painted so your eyes draw into the places that really matter. Its sexual, its alluring it makes me incredibly happy looking at it.