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Usually I am not terribly turned on by portrait paintings, but there have been an occasional few known portraits to arouse. And on this note, the notion of multi- billion dollar corporations poking their head into the art scene as a means to gain some ounce of respect from the masses, is just as equally unattractive. In collaboration with BP, this summer the National Portrait Gallery opened their thirty- fourth annual running portrait show. All negativities aside, and with faithful attempts to open my mind a bit further, I decided to give the exhibition a proper chance-especially since the show is free! I can now honestly admit that I am a bit embarrassed by my conceit and naivete, 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, the illustrious layers never cease to unfold. Although a 30,000 pound prize winner out of 55 portraits shown has already been selected, FAD has picked out a few highlights which we feel deserve much acclaim and credit.
Here are just a few highlights:
White purity and pink innocence juxtaposed against a stark dark background causing for an alluring and allusive tug heart strings. The lonely girl is sad and solemn, yet cool and collected. What many challenging thoughts she must be enduring…
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.
Power of moment by Zahra Akbari Baseri, 2013
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 also led me to believe that he wouldn’t have even 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. What does it do for yours?
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