Portraits: The U.K. Shortlist

Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has chosen these four works from 2,538 entries from 84 countries as the shortlist for the prestigious BP Portrait Award 2019.  See what you think.

Sophie and Carla by Emma Hopkins, 2019

The painting depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her 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 the artist Emma 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.”

The Crown by Carl-Martin Sandvold, 2019

Sandvold’s self-portrait reflects his interest in ‘the challenges of life, the strangeness of being alive and other existential issues’. Central to Sandvold’s portraiture is the belief that we are all trying to reconcile the love of life with the knowledge of death, saying: “The crown symbolizes the peak of power, achievement and material abundance. In this portrait, it suggests that none of these things really solve anything.”

Imara in her Winter Coat by Charlie Schaffer, 2019

UPDATED: This work by Charlie Schaffer was announced as the winner of the 2019 BP Portrait award (read more here).

Schaffer’s work portrays Imara, an English Literature student he met after moving 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.

Quo vadis? by Massimiliano Pironti, 2018

Pironti’s portrait is of his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker now age 95. Pironti made sketches and took photographs in the kitchen of his grandmother’s home in the town of Gavignano, returning to his studio in Germany for the painting process. Pironti says: “My grandmother is an example of strength, dignity and authority.”

For full details on the artist and each shortlisted work, go to the National Portrait Gallery here.

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