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Although, I am usually not terribly turned on by portrait paintings, there have been an occasional few known portraits to tickle my fancy, and with the National Portrait Gallery opening their thirty- fourth annual running portrait show, I decided to get a little ‘crazy’ and give the exhibition a proper chance-especially considering it is free! I am now almost embarrassed by my conceit, and shamefully bow my head to all of the involved participants, as I was thoroughly amused and impressed with the wide variety of portraits featured in this years eye catching show. From stunning realistic interpretations to imaginative expressionistic brushstrokes, ranging from informal and personal studies of friends and family to revealing paintings of famous faces- no matter which subject one is faced with, it is incredibly challenging to pick which one is the best! Although a 30,000 pound prize winner out of 55 portraits shown has already been selected I have picked out a few highlights which I feel deserve much acclaim and credit.
Here are just a few highlights:
White purity and pink innocence juxtaposed against a dark background always causes for an alluring and allusive tug on my heart strings.
Lisa Stokes studied at Plymouth College of Art and Design and Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design. Her work has been seen in solo exhibitions in London and Plymouth and in numerous group exhibitions in the UK. Her work was previously selected for BP Portrait Award 1994, 1999 and 2001.Stokes says of this self-portrait: ‘This is one of a series involving wearing a clown face. The inspiration came from a period of intense sadness and the need to express a contradictory outward appearance to the inner turmoil and sorrow that I was experiencing on the inside.’
Yes. This is acrylic on canvas. Literally thought this was a photograph and is somewhat creepy, yet incredibly impressive how much skill Martinec executes in this portrait fooling audiences as cleverly as shown here. Brilliant.
Martinec studied at the Academy of Fine Art (MgA.), Prague; Middlesex University, London and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York. The portrait is of Martinec’s girlfriend, wearing her designer sunglasses on her head, Martinec says: ‘No longer looking through rose-tinted glasses, Zuzana looks at reality without illusion’.
Lovin’ the cool blue suit and again the realism in this painting is striking! With allusions towards 17th century Dutch portraiture- I was dramatically enamoured from the contemporary spin Toth applies to this particularly clever magical card scene.
Agnes Toth studied fine art at University College Falmouth and the Academy of Fine Arts Budapest. Her work has been seen in solo exhibitions in Germany, Italy and Spain and group exhibitions in New York, London, and Budapest.
Something whimsical and meditative captured me from a distance where I felt compelled to step into the painting to open the blinds and awaken the thoughts and actions of this seemingly ghostly soul! Yet, something tells me he wouldn’t have noticed my presence.
Zahra Akbari Baseri studied graphic design and undertook a BA in carpet design at Yazd University, Iran.The portrait is of the artist’s friend, Ali, and was painted in his flat in Glasgow. The two met in 2011 and became firm friends among a group of mutual acquaintances. Akbari Baseri says: ‘His charismatic face motivated me to paint his portrait several times. Among our crowd of friends, Ali’s character was very attractive, and his reserve and silence make him seem like someone from another time
Reminiscent of a Lucian Freud, it was hard not to become intrugued as to what this quarky character is so entranced by!
Saied Dai undertook a degree in painting at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design and a post graduate diploma at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The portrait is of the concert pianist Alan Rowlands, a close friend of the artist and formerly a professor of music at the Royal College of Music, London. It was painted over a number of years and was completed following the sitter’s death in 2012.
Full of erotica, immense technical skill and lovely golden yellows and crisp blues- this painting thoroughly charmed a range of my senses. Kudos to Laglia.
Antonio Laglia studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma. His work has been seen in numeorus group exhibitions in Europe, the USA and Qatar.The portrait is of Valeria, an actress and professional model. Laglia explains: ‘I initially posed the model standing by a cabinet, however during a break, she sat down wearily to rest on a chair. I decided to change the portrait to this more realistic and authentic pose.’ The colours of the drapery reminded Laglia of his toy parrot, Cocorita, which he then included in the painting.
For more info: http://www.npg.org.uk