Just back from the press view of this year’s BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. All the artists and a good many of the usual journalists were there. A wide span, too of artistic styles and paint media, with a number still of the hair-fine, photographic-realism style prevalent in recent years, and a goodly collection of self portraits with the portraits, and a smattering of group portraits.
The winning painting, Pieter by Susanne du Toit is good, characterful with a strong presence. But it was this painting, of her friend Wessel by the France-based artist Franny Golden, that caught my eye and had me back for a return visit. The treatment stood out as unusual – a flatness and dryness of paint among all the life-like manipulation of oils elsewhere. And while a strong sense of character and individual posture of the sitter comes through, there is something non-specific too, making me think ‘I could live with this character in my house’, even if I don’t know him.
As ever the National Portrait Gallery have a selection of events and activities to help visitors of all ages explore more deeply into the subject, and the exhibition is free. Go and see what you think.