Skip to content
Distracted, Wim Heldens (Dutch), oil on canvas, 750mm x 550mm, first prize winner in the BP Portrait Award 2011 competition. Image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London.

Dutch artist Wim Heldens wins BP Portrait Award 2011

Distracted, Wim Heldens (Dutch), oil on canvas, 750mm x 550mm, first prize winner in the BP Portrait Award 2011 competition. Image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London.
Distracted, Wim Heldens (Dutch), oil on canvas, 750mm x 550mm, first prize winner in the BP Portrait Award 2011 competition. Image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London.

LONDON – The winner of the BP Portrait Award 2011 was announced yesterday, June 14, at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In a record-setting year for entries, the prestigious first prize was awarded to Wim Heldens, a 57-year-old artist from Amsterdam. Heldens won the prize for his portrait of a 25-year-old student.

Heldens wins not only the honor but also a cash prize of £25,000 ($40,600) and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £4,000 ($6,500).

The portrait, titled Distracted, can be viewed at the National Portrait Gallery beginning Thursday, June 16, when the BP Portrait Award 2011 exhibition opens to the public.

A self-taught professional artist who has been painting since the age of seven, Heldens had entered the BP Portrait Award competition twice before, but this was his first year to make the shortlist. His winning portrait is a picture of a 25-year-old philosophy student named Jeroen, whom the artist has painted 17 times at different stages of his life. Heldens has been a father figure to Jeroen since he was four years old.

In Distracted, Jeroen is pictured leaning on a section of wall with a pencil in his hand, wearing the black and gray of which Heldens says, “he only seems to be wearing these days.” The simple white studio walls are used as a framework for his composition, focusing on his sitter in the light from the window. “I have been fascinated with painting Jeroen in all stages of life through growing up. Now, he is an intelligent and sensitive young man,” Heldens said.

The second prize of £8,000 ($13,000) went to Louis Smith for his work titled Holly, and the third prize of £6,000 ($9,750) was awarded to Ian Cumberland for Just to Feel Normal.

The BP Young Artist Award of £5,000 ($8,125), for the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30, was won by Sertan Saltan for Mrs. Cerna.

BP PORTRAIT AWARD 2011 – OVERALL FIGURES:

•         Total number of entrants                          2,372

•         UK Entries                                                1,644

•         International Entries                                 728

BP PORTRAIT AWARD 2011 – EXHIBITION FIGURES (55 SELECTED FROM TOTAL ENTRY):

Exhibition entrants 41 or over                  21

Exhibition entrants 31 – 40 years             24

Exhibition entrants 30 and under             10

International artists                                   17

Countries represented by artists in Exhibition (other than UK):

England (33); Wales (1); Scotland (3); Northern Ireland (1); Ireland (1); USA (4); Netherlands (2); Spain (5); Israel (1); Czech Republic (1); Latvia (1); Italy (1); Canada (1).

BP TRAVEL AWARD:

In addition, the BP Travel Award 2011 winner was announced yesterday. The BP Travel Award is an annual award of £5,000 ($8,125), to allow artists to experience working in a different environment on a project related to portraiture.

This year’s award was won by Jo Fraser for her proposal to travel to the Cuzco region of Peru, where she will observe the labor-intensive production of textiles in small indigenous communities. She has always been fascinated by the symbolism within the weavings, the methods of creating them and the historical traditions of the process. Her final piece in oils will be developed from sketches and photographs taken during her visit. Fraser’s final work will be displayed in the BP Portrait Award 2012 exhibition.

The work of the BP Travel Award 2010 winner Paul Beel records the journey he undertook to Corfu to paint a large-scale polyptych of a nudist beach, which portrays the wide range of locals and tourists the artist encountered during a month-long stay on the island. The resulting painting, Epic Mirtiotissa, and a video portrait of Paul’s month on Corfu, will be shown in this year’s exhibition.

Visit the National Portrait Gallery website at www.npg.org.uk.

#   #   #


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Distracted, Wim Heldens (Dutch), oil on canvas, 750mm x 550mm, first prize winner in the BP Portrait Award 2011 competition. Image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London.
Distracted, Wim Heldens (Dutch), oil on canvas, 750mm x 550mm, first prize winner in the BP Portrait Award 2011 competition. Image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London.