Friday, June 23, 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017: Artists with their paintings

Portrait artists with portrait paintings selected for inclusion in the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery can expect the following benefits:
  • your portrait will be seen by well in excess of 250,000 visitors in London this summer - and even more around the UK over the course of the next 12 months (see the end of this for details of the exhibition)
  • your CV is greatly enhanced by selection for this prestigious exhibition - and it helps to interest galleries in showing your work
  • your website will get enquiries about commissions for future work. Assuming you remembered to get your website into good order - with a page devoted to commissions - in advance of the show!
Friends Preview

This post is about some of the artists whose work was selected. Let's also not forget the friends and families, many of whom sat for the portraits - and some of came to the press view yesterday!

Previously I've written about the artists selected for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - which contains mini bios and links to their websites

Artists with their Paintings

The selection of the artists photographed for this post is not scientific. They are those who were at  the Press View yesterday morning and I managed to spot their label declaring them to be an artist. (Tip: never ever hide your label at a Press View!)

However, in a way it's also a mini profile and nod in the direction of the 2,580 artists from 87 countries around the world who submitted work for the show.

Not all artists are experienced and/or professional - a number are enthusiastic amateurs while others are starting out on their careers.

The painters in this post are:

  • UK: England - Martyn Burdon, Rowanne Cowley, Estelle Day, Raoof Haghighi (from Iran / now a UK citizen), Hero Johnson, Laura Quinn Harris, Lucy Stopford, Khushna Sulaman-Butt, Casper White,
  • UK: Scotland - Hannah Laws 
  • France - Julian Merrow-Smith (born UK; lives in Provence),
  • Israel - Anne Ben-Or
  • Lithuania: Laura Guoke
  • Israel - Anne Ben-Or
  • Turkey: Mustafa Ozel
  • USA: John Borowicz and David Stanger
  • Canada: Ross McCauley (currently living in Glasgow)
  • South Africa: Emily Stainer
At the end of this list is a section called Other artists I missed for are "the ones that got away" but somebody else was sensible and took a photo!

The narrative below includes large pics - but you have to click them to see the large version - and a link to the artist's website. The artists are also organised by country of origin (with a note of where they are living at the moment)

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ben Sullivan wins BP Portrait Award 2017

Benjamin Sullivan has finally won First Prize in the BP Portrait Award 2017 - after winning Third Prize in 2016 and being previously selected for the BP Portrait Award 12 times.  

Team Sullivan - portrait painter Ben Sullivan with the BP Portrait Award (First Prize)
his two models - wife Ginnie and daughter Edie
The winning portrait was selected from strong competition - 2,580 entries were received from 87 countries

Below is a list of the Awards and who won what.  You can read more about each of the artists in the profiles contained in BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist

Giving the BP Portrait Awards a final polish
Interestingly, all the sitters for the main prizes were women and the First and Second prizes were both portraits of new mothers.  All the winning portraits are also very precise paintings - with both the second and third prize winners using very small hatching marks.

Admission to The BP Portrait Exhibition is free to the public. It can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 22 June until 24 September - when it will get about 300,000 visitors - after which it will then travel to Exeter, Edinburgh and Sunderland. (see below for details).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2017

The 2017 Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club (NEAC) opened at the Mall Galleries last week and continues until 25th June  (10am to 5pm; closes 1pm on final day).

I was unable to get to the PV for the NEAC Annual Exhibition and visited on Sunday afternoon instead. It was delightful to be able to see all the pics in comfort and I think I might want to make more Sunday visits! (Note I do most of the wide shots towards the end of the afternoon when fewer people are present)

This post provides:
  • images of the exhibition
  • my conclusions about 
    • the exhibition overall
    • the OPEN exhibition having viewed it in full three times and done some counting
    • sales - and sizes and price points
  • a listing of the main prizewinners

The Exhibition

The exhibition has 413 paintings, drawings and fine art prints (excluding work by members those not listed in the catalogue) plus 2 watercolours by HRH Prince of Wales. Paintings include oils, acrylic, watercolour and mixed media. Drawings included charcoal, pastel and graphite.

One thing NEAC may want to rethink is this statement. It might have been true once but I'd be happy to debate with the society whether it is still true.
Our Annual Exhibition held at Mall Galleries is now firmly established as a fixture of the London Summer Season, exhibiting painting and drawing made from direct observation.
 Generally the exhibition looked good. I'll be curious to see whether it performs as good as it looks. My notes indicate:
  • obviously a new guiding hand as there is a lot more colour - and then while drinking my cup of tea noted that Richard Pikesley is the new President so that explains that!  I note also that Richard sold extremely well in the exhibition - so he's obviously doing his bit to drum up both traffic and supportive buying collectors.
  • the 'hang' hung together - and presents a very pleasing contrast to the RA Summer Exhibition which I saw earlier in the week - where my eye kept getting 'lost'
  • the artists hung seem to be different - and I can't quite work out what I mean by that. I speculate that it's probably artists I'm used to seeing in the exhibition do't have work included and there are probably some new members whose work I've less familiar with. There again - there's the issue of who got selected for the open...
  • The exhibition is odd in terms of what gets hung where - of which more in the next section
  • The sales are not representative of the exhibition - of which more in the sales section.

The Main Gallery

Almost all the work is by NEAC members.

There were two small works walls in the Main Galleries and both had generated a few sales.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Columbia Threadneedle Prize returns

The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018 for the best new work of figurative and representational art launched today - however I was out and most of the rest of my week is committed with the BP Portrait Awards and exhibition reviews so I'll be reviewing the new exhibition website and doing my Call for Entries post a little later.

You don't need to worry - the deadline for entries is 22 September 2017!

However you can see
  • the launch video below 
  • images of selected works in previous exhibitions in the Archive on the website
  • past winners and my reviews and photos of past exhibitions (which give you a perspective on size of artwork) in my blog posts below

Plus you can see in my blog posts below.......

who has won the prize previously

So far the gender ratio in terms of prizewinners is 6 women and 2 men (or 7 women if you count both of the double header win in 2013!)

what previous exhibitions looked like 

PLUS the solo exhibition by Lewis Hazelwood Horner, the last winner in 2016, can be seen in this post Impressive solo exhibition by 2016 Threadneedle Prizewinner

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Does the RA Summer Exhibition still have the WOW factor?

I went to see the 2017 Summer Exhibition of 1,092 artworks at the Royal Academy of Arts on Monday - and this post should have been written sooner (but for an event this week).

This blog post is going to
  • show you how you can see the exhibition - even if you can't get to London
  • examine why this exhibition wowed me less than others and
  • identify pieces I really liked.
Friends Review on 12th June - Gallery III complete with Pimms Bar
This is how you can see the exhibition - without visiting:
  • a video on YouTube - which lasts 74 seconds (how many years has it taken for the RA to catch up with YouTube for promoting what an exhibition actually looks like?)

  • a Summer Exhibition Explorer website - where you can see ALL the exhibits - and create pages for different categories and price points. It started last year and seems to have been refined this year
  • for example, for those seeking more affordable art - there is an art for under £500 website option - which tends to include a lot of prints. 
You can see the exhibition in person in the Main Galleries at Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy of Arts until 20th August 2017 (Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm; Friday 10am – 10pm). Entrance is £15.50 (without donation £14). Friends of the RA, and under 16s when with a fee-paying adult, go free.

Has the Summer Exhibition lost its WOW?

The Summer Exhibition this year has certainly lost its WOW related to oversized works and/or statements by artistic testosterone flaunting male artists - whether that be pink walls and stripey staircases or massive paintings almost covering an entire wall in Gallery III

It's altogether a gentler exhibition - quite possibly because it was put together by a female curator Royal Academician Eileen Cooper who wanted to explore themes of discovery and new talent.

That does however mean that the Courtyard is positively disappointing. The Wind Sculpture VI by Yinka Shonibare work is simply not big enough - and it's not helped by the cones off to the left, the "pavement cafe" scene out front and the cranes out back. You only notice all these things when your eye is not totally absorbed by a massive something or other.  (Looking at the pic of it in the online website, it looks much better in a domestic setting.)

If it wasn't for the colours you could blink and miss this installation.
Looking back after nearly a week, I'm finding it difficult to remember anything much about the exhibition apart from the Western Union: Small Boats (edition of 3 £200,000) video by Isaac Julien which was very impressive.  It also won the The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2017

This is the challenge of the Summer Exhibition - making sense of it.
This year I was somewhat preoccupied by the fact my steroid injection for my arthritis has worn off and I was more interested in whether or not a gallery had a seat to sit down on. (There were some but nowhere near enough considering the age of a lot of the visitors - the RA could be a LOT more disability friendly). My solution was to see the exhibition in two halves - with lunch over the road at Fortnum & Masons inbetween (the art on my plate was much more to my taste!)

So 10 reasons why the Summer Exhibition has lost its wow are:
  1. nothing made me say Wow!
  2. disappointing entrance to Burlington House (see above) and the exhibition (an exhibit at the entrance which stops you moving forward is not good for circulation and the colour of the walls was vile - like sick!)
  3. the small paintings are lost or swamped - why it's OK to hang similar smaller sized photos together but not small works is beyond me.  I used to love the crush in the Small Weston Room as we all tried to see all the small works - typically entered by the public.
  4. no models in the architecture section - it was literally and metaphorically too flat
  5. some galleries are crammed/swamped with strong images making them indigestible (eg the photography) and the gallery difficult to view.
  6. a certain lack of punctuation or good design on the walls - eye-catching statement pieces were either competing with one another or located in corners - making it difficult for the eye to 'read the room'
  7. too few good figurative paintings - by which I mean of the relatively realistic variety. There were any number of the more fantasy oriented or "I can't draw" variety.  I see a lot more paintings I like better on a regular basis in the open exhibitions and art competitions exhibiting at the Mall Galleries. 
  8. too few drawings - in past exhibitions we're seen a lot more drawings
  9. the prints seemed to lack something - I love the print rooms and yet this time prints seemed more amorphous - lacking colour or size as punctuation and scattered across a number of rooms
  10. Overall, it seemed as if the exhibition lacked a good "Edit"
I thought the galleries with coloured walls had more impact - but I wasn't a huge fan of the colours chosen.

See what I mean below
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