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"Girl with an iPod" is Visitors' Favorite Painting at BP Portrait Award Exhibition
iDeath (1st prize Visitors Choice) by Michal Ožibko. © Michal Ožibko.

LONDON.- A large and striking portrait of the head of a girl wearing earphones with eyes downwards focusing on the music on her iPod is the favourite painting of visitors to this year’s BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Each year, the BP Visitor Choice competition offers visitors to the highly popular BP Portrait Award exhibition the opportunity to vote for their favourite portrait in the exhibition. This year, a record 25,980 votes were cast between 24 June and 5 September 2010, and the overall winner was iDeath by Michal Ožibko, which received 4,127 votes. The second most popular was Sentinel by Lyndsey Jameson (2,500 votes), and the third Le Grand Natan by Daniel Enkaoua (2,098 votes). The three had maintained these positions at the top of the table since voting started.

For the first time this year, visitors were able to vote on a touchscreen positioned just outside the exhibition which runs at the National Portrait Gallery until 19 September 2010. The full results can be seen at:

Michal Ožibko (17.3.1981) for iDeath (4,127 votes) (oil with acrylic background on canvas, 2200 x 1700 mm): Michal Ožibko, an artist and art director from Prague, Czech Republic, created his first oil painting when he was 14 and went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 2005. This painting shows the stylization of Jana, a school friend who Michal thought was an interesting person. She is shown in a large head-and top-of-shoulders study with her hair centre-parted and side-bunned behind her ears from which two earphone wires drop to the edge of the canvas. Her eyes do not look out at the viewer but are cast downwards as she listens to her music. The iPod itself is not pictured. By picturing her in this way Michal felt his work became representative of people he met each day in the street.

Lyndsey Jameson (30.10.1982) for Sentinel (2,500 votes) (oil on linen, 1220 x 770 mm): Lyndsey Jameson, a teacher from Darlington, County Durham, studied Fine Art at Sunderland University. This painting shows her younger brother Declan, standing on the bank of the River Tees on a sunny day, with wet hair and skin coated by the dark silt of the river bank. The broken branch which he holds vertically echoes his own proud posture and perhaps naively assumes ownership of this publicly owned land. A portrait of Lyndsey in last year’s BP Portrait Award exhibition by her brother Mark Jameson won the BP Young Artist Award 2009, and a self-portrait by Mark is also included in this year’s exhibition.

Daniel Enkaoua (24.7.1962) for Le Grand Natan (2,098 votes) (oil on canvas, 2270 x 1825mm): Daniel Enkaoua, an Israeli-born teacher based in Barcelona, Spain, studied at the Avni Institute of Art in Tel Aviv, Israel. When his son, Natan was four years old he asked his father to paint a picture of him as big as possible. This request informed the making of this portrait. Following his wish, Daniel now understands that while children yearn to act like adults, we conversely desire to acknowledge the child that resides in all of us.

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