London artist Miriam Escofet wins BP Portrait Award 2018

Miriam Escofet, An Angel at my Table (1000mm x 700mm, oil on linen over panel), First Prize winner, BP Portrait Award, 2018

LONDON – The winner of the BP Portrait Award 2018 was announced this evening at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The prestigious first prize – in the 29th year of BP’s sponsorship of the competition – was won by London based artist, Miriam Escofet for An Angel at my Table, a portrait of her mother drinking tea.

The winning portrait was selected from 2,667 entries from 88 countries, submitted for judging anonymously by a panel which included journalist Rosie Millard and artist Glenn Brown. The judges were particularly struck by the constraint and intimacy of Escofet’s composition, evoking both the inner stillness of her subject and the idea of the Universal Mother. Commenting on the painting, Rosie Millard said, “The crisp tablecloth and china are rendered so beautifully – and then you see that one of the plates and a winged sculpture on the table appear to be moving which adds a surreal quality to the portrait. It is also a very sensitive depiction of an elderly sitter.”

Lily Cole presented Miriam Escofet with £35,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist). Born in Barcelona, Escofet moved to the UK in 1979 when she was twelve. She has previously been selected four times for the BP Portrait Award exhibition. Escofet’s paintings are classically inspired, encompassing still life, allegory, imaginary composition and portraiture.

The portrait can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery from Thursday 14 June when the BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition opens to the public. Admission to the exhibition is free.

The second prize of £12,000 went to American painter, Felicia Forte, for Time Traveller, Matthew Napping, depicting her boyfriend Mathew asleep in bed. The judges were particularly impressed by the artist’s bold use of color, creating a painting that exudes atmosphere while also being distinctly intimate and personal. The third prize of £10,000 went to Chinese artist, Zhu Tongyao for Simone, his portrait of his neighbors’ child from his time staying in Florence. The judges appreciated how the work combined the tradition of Renaissance portraiture with the sitter’s modern style that conveyed a compelling portrayal of a youth on the cusp of adulthood.

The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 28 year-old Suffolk based artist Ania Hobson for A Portrait of two Female Painters a portrait of the artist with her sister in law. The judges liked the handling of paint and directness in this work, capturing an interesting air of mystery around the relationship of the two young women.

The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018, an annual prize to enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture, was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes. The prize of £8,000 is open to applications from any of this year’s BP Portrait Awardexhibited artists, except the prize-winners.

About Miriam Escofet:

Miriam Escofet was born in Barcelona and moved to the UK in 1979. Escofet graduated from Brighton School of Art in 1990, where she studied 3D Design, and began painting soon after. This is the fifth time Escofet has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition. She has also been regularly selected for The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ annual exhibitions and was awarded the Burke’s Peerage Foundation Prize for Classically Inspired Portraiture in 2015.

An Angel at my Table shows Escofet’s elderly mother sat at her kitchen table surrounded by tea crockery. The painting suggests a sense of space, perspective and time which conveys the sitter’s inner stillness and calm. Escofet says she was also conscious whilst painting that she wanted to “transmit an idea of the Universal Mother, who is at the center of our psyche and emotional world.”

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