Currently on Show at the Gallery Downstairs at The Department Store 248 Ferndale Rd London SW9 8FR
2nd -14th November 2019 Opening hours 10.00-17.00 Nearest Underground: Brixton
I happened to be walking in Brixton last Sunday when I came across a sign advertising an exhibition of portraits. What a piece of serendipity, these are colourful joyful and an outstanding collection of portraits.
Sarah Jane Moon is an award winning professional painter based in London, who exhibits and teaches regularly in the UK and abroad. Her portraiture frequently explores identity, sexuality and gender presentation.
Moon’s portraits represent a cross section of contemporary queer LGBTQ+ life and love. Her subjects are often people close to her or whom she admires greatly for their commitment to live authentically and forge ahead in their chosen industry.
Those depicted include writers, landscape designers, doctors, lawyers, artists and more, and together they create a powerful statement on contemporary life lived with pride.
Moon has been gaining increasing attention this year and this solo exhibition follows swiftly on from her inclusion in the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition(9th -24th May 2019, Mall Galleries, London and the internationally renowned and highly competitive BP Portrait Award Exhibition (National Portrait Gallery London- Currently touring to Edinburgh and Belfast.)
The subjects in Moon’s earlier portraits are presented in their backgrounds, offices, sitting rooms etc. You get a glimpse of that person’s life, their choice of furnishings, books and their style. The backgrounds in her later portraits are abstract with bold colourful marks, your eyes are drawn to the subject who has been painted, rather than the peripherals of their life.
winner of the BP Portrait Award 2019 was announced this week at
the National Portrait Gallery, London. The exhibition is now open for the
public to view until Sunday 20 October 2019.
2019 marks the Portrait Award’s 40th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 30th year of sponsorship by BP. The BP Portrait Award, one of the most important platforms for portrait painters, has a first prize of £35,000, making it one of the largest for any global arts competition. This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
As I write this I am very aware of the opposition to BP sponsoring the Portrait award. Despite the controversy the work is an incredible standard and the show is worth visiting. This year is particularly good as the work depicts people from all walks of life different ages cultures and ethnicity.
“There should be no role for an oil company in the artistic decisions of any cultural organization, and especially not in determining the winner of the world’s leading portrait award.” wrote the award’s judge, artist Gary Hume in a letter published with the group Culture Unstained. “This is the 30th year of BP sponsoring the Portrait Award, and I would argue that 30 years is enough. As the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, the Gallery will look more and more out of step by hosting an oil-branded art prize.” This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
first prize was won by Brighton based artist, Charlie Schaffer, for Imara
in her Winter Coat. This is a
portrait of a close friend of the artist. It was selected from 2,538
submissions from 84 countries. The judges admired the mannerist style of this
portrait, which has a strong sense of a living presence in Schaffer’s composition. The
judges went on to say, ‘the skilful depiction of a combination of several
different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged
looking and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly
from London, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins before graduating with a
degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 2014. He has gone on to
win the Brian Botting Prize ‘for an outstanding representation of the human figure’
portrait Imara in her Winter Coat portrays Imara, an English
Literature student he met after moving permanently to Brighton. Schaffer said:
“She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who
wants to learn about anything and everything.” Sittings for the portrait took
place over four months, with Imara posing in her warmest winter coat to
withstand the studio’s cold conditions. Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s
face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait
of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its pyramidal
composition and the subject’s similar attire
Toksvig presented Charlie Schaffer with £35,000 and a commission, at the
National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (agreed between
the National Portrait Gallery and the artist).
London in 1992, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins and then the
University of Brighton where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in Fine Art.
This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition.
Schaffer’s practice is mainly concerned with the act of painting, and how the
process that allows the painter and sitter to spend time with one another forms
unique and intense relationships.
The second prize of £12,000 went to Norwegian painter, Carl-Martin Sandvold, for The Crown, a self-portrait in existential thought. The judges were particularly impressed by the assured handling of paint, and keen observation, creating a portrait that had made a memorable impression, and lingered in the mind.
The third prize of £10,000 went to Italian artist, Massimiliano Pironti, for Quo Vadis?, a portrait of his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker now aged ninety-five. The judges were captivated by the excellent depiction of the subject, in particular the sitter’s hands in contrast with the surrounding textures including rubber, tiles and curtains.
The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 for the work
of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 30 year-old
Brighton based artist Emma Hopkins for Sophie and
Carla, a portrait that depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her
pet dog. The judges liked the way negative space had been used in the portrait,
and how the artist had refreshed the traditional depiction of the nude with an
interesting mutual gaze between the artist and sitter. Emma Hopkins was
born in Brighton in 1989 and turned to portrait painting after graduating with
a degree in Make-up and Prosthetics for Performance from the University of the
Arts, London. Self-taught, Hopkins first exhibited her work in a staff show at
the Chelsea Arts Club while working behind the bar, now she is a member of the
Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Hopkins’ expertise has fed directly into
her painting, which focuses almost exclusively on nude portraits and studies of
Hopkins’ portrait Sophie
and Carla depicts the
photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog Carla. Mayanne is known for Behind the Scars, a photography
project about people’s scars and the stories behind them. It is an interest
that Hopkins shares, she says: “I want to understand as much as I can about
what it means to be human. We are not just the clothed person we present to the
world. We are the mind and body that we inhabit.”
winner of the BP Travel Award 2019, an annual prize to
enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to
portraiture, was Manu Kaur Saluja for her proposal to travel to the Golden
Temple at Amritsar, India. Saluja intends to make portraits of the men and
women from all walks of life who volunteer to work in the temple kitchens that
operate year-round, providing meals to over 50,000 people free of charge, every
day. The prize of £8,000 is open to applications from any of this year’s BP
Portrait Award-exhibited artists, except the prize-winners.
The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018 was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes. His excellent portraits work are displayed one floor up from the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition.