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Prestigious BP Portrait Award returning to art gallery

The prestigious BP Portrait Award will return to Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Saturday 13 October.

Laura by Shawn McGovern, 2018 © Shawn McGovern
Laura by Shawn McGovern

Now in its 39th year, it showcases the most outstanding and innovative new portraits from around the world.

The free exhibition features a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait, from informal and personal studies of friends and family to revealing paintings of famous faces.

This year, 2,667 entries were received from artists in 88 countries.

Each one was judged anonymously by a panel of judges - the artists' name, nationality, gender and age were withheld - and the list was gradually reduced to just 48 exceptional portraits for the exhibition.

The judges individually addressed what makes an outstanding portrait, weighing up the likeness, narrative, structure and overall impact of the work.

The BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition was launched at the National Portrait Gallery in June and is exhibiting at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, as its only English touring venue, until Friday 30 November, before moving on to Edinburgh. Normal gallery opening hours are Monday to Saturday (10.30am to 4.30pm) and Sunday (11am to 4pm).

Highlights of the exhibition include portraits by the shortlisted artists, Felicia Forte and Zhu Tongyao, as well as the First Prize winner, Miriam Escofet, whose enigmatic work An Angel At My Table shows the artist's elderly mother sitting at her kitchen table surrounded by tea crockery. Escofet says she was conscious of wanting to 'transmit an idea of the Universal Mother, who is at the centre of our psyche and emotional world.'

A series of talks and events will complement the exhibition. For more information visit Wolverhampton Arts and Culture.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: "It is very welcome to see the BP Portrait Award back in the City of Wolverhampton and I am very happy that we he have the opportunity to exhibit it again.

"The works on display are exquisite and the skills of these artists are extraordinary.

"I would urge everyone to take the time to come and see the exhibition before it moves to Scotland in December."

Ms Des Violaris, Director UK Arts and Culture BP, added: "The BP Portrait Award has established itself as one of the most important platforms for portraiture in the world, and with the value of the prizes increasing across all categories this year it is also one of the largest of any global arts competition.

"Congratulations to Miriam Escofet and all of this year's prize-winning artists.

"BP is a major supporter of UK arts and culture, and we are extremely proud of the continued success of this award programme and we look forward to seeing the exhibition in London, Wolverhampton and Edinburgh throughout the year."

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. 

  • released: Tuesday 31 July, 2018