This year’s BP Portrait Award exhibition presents a compelling sense of narrative, says Florence Waters
Visiting the BP Portrait award last Saturday felt , as it generally does, like taking a journey though time.
A journey that took me back to my student years when , freshly arrived to the UK, I decided to submit and entry titled “Mad cow”. The entry, a self portrait, featured a mug (with the words on) with the tired eyes of an architectural student gazing back at the viewer.
It was a portrait that I still like because of its honesty, but in truth rather amateurish.
I must clear and confess that I never imagined being in with a chance to win any of the awards. All I wanted was the chance to be featured at the exhibition.
More than ten years on, after seeing the level of entries rocket year after year, I could not imagine having the same audacity now.
There would be a lot to discuss but I will choose to focus on this year’s winner: The man with the plaid blanket.
As an architect born to a “normal” family and raised in a estate that was built by the fisherman’s cooperative that my grandfather belonged to.
I am a strong believer in society as a micro cosmos where by each person plays an important role and I therefore struggle with topics such as displacement of the population and gentrification.
And the greatness of this year’s winning portrait, which I would have liked to title “The age of man” , lays in portraying this message in a restraint yet powerful way.
The composition and scale are remarkably well considered in the artist’s attempt to elevate the humble origins of its subject to the status of a worthy work of art that will make everyone reconsider our relationship with one other.
This, to me, is a painting that I have promised myself to never forget.