LONDON – The winner of the BP Portrait Award 2019 was announced this evening at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The prestigious first prize was won by Brighton based artist, Charlie Schaffer for Imara in her Winter Coat, a portrait of his close friend.
The winning portrait was selected from 2,538 submissions from 84 countries. The judges admired the mannerist style of this painting, which has a strong sense of a living presence in Schaffer’s composition. The judges went on to say, “the skillful depiction of a combination of several different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged looking, and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly contemporary.”
Sandi Toksvig presented Charlie Schaffer 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 London in 1992, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins and then the University of Brighton where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in Fine Art. This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition. Schaffer’s practice is mainly concerned with the act of painting, and how the process that allows the painter and sitter to spend time with one another forms unique and intense relationships.
The portrait can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery from Thursday 13 June when the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition opens to the public. Admission to the exhibition is free.
The second prize of £12,000 went to Norwegian painter, Carl-Martin Sandvold, for The Crown, a self-portrait in existential thought. The judges were particularly impressed by the assured handling of paint and keen observation, creating a portrait that had made a memorable impression, and lingered in the mind. The third prize of £10,000 went to Italian artist, Massimiliano Pironti, for Quo Vadis?, a portrait of his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker now aged ninety-five. The judges were captivated by the excellent depiction of the subject, in particular the sitter’s hands in contrast with the surrounding textures including rubber, tiles and curtains.
The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 30 year-old Brighton-based artist Emma Hopkins for Sophie and Carla, a portrait that depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog. The judges liked the way negative space had been used in the portrait, and how the artist had refreshed the traditional depiction of the nude with an interesting mutual gaze between the artist and sitter.
The winner of the BP Travel Award 2019, an annual prize to enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture, was Manu Kaur Saluja for her proposal to travel to the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India. Saluja intends to make portraits of the men and women from all walks of life who volunteer to work in the temple kitchens that operate year-round, providing meals to over 50,000 people free of charge, every day. The prize of £8,000 is open to applications from any of this year’s BP Portrait Award-exhibited artists, except the prize-winners.
About Charlie Schaffer:
Originally from London, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins before graduating with a degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 2014. He has gone on to win the Brian Botting Prize “for an outstanding representation of the human figure” three times.
Schaffer’s portrait Imara in her Winter Coat portrays Imara, an English Literature student he met after moving permanently to Brighton. Schaffer said: “She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who wants to learn about anything and everything.” Sittings for the portrait took place over four months, with Imara posing in her warmest winter coat to withstand the studio’s cold conditions. Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its pyramidal composition and the subject’s similar attire.
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