In a year that saw a record breaking number of entries, the three artists shortlisted for the 2014 BP Portrait Award have been announced. The winner of the award, which will be announced on June 24th, will win £30,000 and have their piece displayed at the National Portrait Gallery from June 26th to September 21st.
Man with a Plaid Blanket features Karel, a homeless man who makes money cleaning car windscreens in Frankfurt and is soon to be pushed into the eye of the British art world. Thomas Ganter, who painted him said that “After being in a museum, I saw a homeless man and was stunned by a similarity: the clothes, the pose, and other details resembled what I just saw in various paintings,” said Thomas. “However, this time I was looking at a homeless person wrapped in a blanket and not at the painting of a saint or noble in their elaborate garment.”
Brooklyn based David Jon Kassan chose to paint his mother in Letter to my Mom. However, she was a reluctant model and only agreed to sit for her son on the condition that he’d paint her a picture of her grandson, and his son, Lucas. “My parents have always been inspirational to paint. This portrait is a letter to my mom, who hates it when I paint her,” he explains. “But I tell her in the painting that by painting her, it is my way of spending time with her, contemplating our relationship and time together, my earliest memories.”
The only Briton shortlisted is Richard Twose who painted the somewhat contemporary-style-icon Jean Woods in his piece of the same name. He was inspired to paint her after seeing her working in shop in his home city of Bath. “Sometimes as Jean was talking, especially about her much-missed late husband, she reminded me of Rembrandt’s Portrait of Margaretha de Geer,” says Richard. “Jean has a similar intensity and honesty in her gaze. I wanted to capture that sense of someone who has learnt to be almost fearless, looking forward to life still but with a great richness of experience behind her.”
As well as the prize money and esteem that comes with winning the BP Portrait Award, the winner will also be commissioned to produce a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.