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National Portrait Gallery announces Family Affair shortlist for 2013 biggest ever cash prize BP Portrait Award
The Uncertain Time by John Devane© John Devane.
LONDON.- Two artists have been short-listed for the BP Portrait Award 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery, London – for powerful paintings of their sons and daughters.

As part of BP’s support for a further five years of the BP Portrait Award, one of the world’s most prestigious art competitions, the First Prize has been increased by £5,000 to £30,000. This makes it one of the largest for any global arts competition. The winner will receive the £30,000 cash prize and a commission worth £5,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.

The Second Prize winner will receive £10,000. While the competition is open to everyone over the age of 18, for the sixth year there will be a BP Young Artist Award of £7,000 for the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30. This award winner and the other prize-winners will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 18 June 2013. The portraits go on display to the public at the BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 June to 15 September 2013.

The two artists shortlisted for the 2013 BP Portrait Award 2013 are John Devane for The Uncertain Time and Susanne du Toit for Pieter.

A painter who also teaches at Coventry University, John Devane, has an MA from the Royal College of Art. He has been shortlisted for his large group portrait of his three children: Lucy, 25, Laura, 20, and Louis, 15. Painted over three years, the picture sets out to show how children emerge from childhood and begin to assert their independence revealing something of their adult selves. He says: ‘The composition suggests an almost stage-like shallow space constructed in two zones with the three figures presented as if they are awaiting some kind of event’. The artist’s key points of reference are the works of Courbet, Chardin, Degas, Balthus and Samuel Beckett. This will be the second time John Devane’s work has been exhibited at the BP Portrait Award, his In the House of The Cellist was seen in the 1995 exhibition.

Educated at the University of Pretoria and the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Susanne du Toit is an artist now based in Crowthorne, Berkshire. She has been shortlisted for her portrait of her eldest son Pieter, aged 35. The sitting took place in the artist’s studio, as part of a series of portraits of her family. Susanne du Toit says she allowed Pieter to find his own pose, with the condition that his hands would appear prominently in the composition – she says she has always found hands essential to communicating personality. ‘I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face’, she says. ‘Having said that, the averted gaze of this portrait, which was his choice, struck me as characteristic of his reflective character, and became intensely engaging’.

This year the competition received 1,969 entries from 77 different countries. 55 portraits have been selected for the exhibition (National Portrait Gallery, London, 20 June - 15 September 2013).

The Portrait Award is now in its 34th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 24th year of sponsorship by BP. This highly successful annual event aims to encourage artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of painted portraiture within their work. The BP Portrait Award 2012 had 255,982 visitors.

The competition was judged from original paintings by: Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Chair of the Judging Panel; David Dawson, Painter and Photographer; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London; Victoria Pomery OBE, Director, Turner Contemporary; Ali Smith, Writer; Des Violaris, Director UK Arts & Culture, BP

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘These two outstanding portraits show the strength of painted portraiture today. Thanks to BP’s continued and generous sponsorship, the new level of prizes can be awarded and the works can be shared with thousands of visitors.’

Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, says: ‘It is always such a pleasure to judge the work of such talented artists. BP is delighted to continue its support for such a prestigious international competition that attracts entries from over 70 countries each year.’



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