BP Portrait Award Reveals 2014 Shortlist…

Three artists have been shortlisted for this year’s BP Portrait Award at London’s National Portrait Gallery, in a record-breaking year for entries.

Thomas Ganter’s subject is a homeless man in Germany while David Kassan’s Letter to my Mom features his own reluctant mother as a subject. Richard Twose painted grandmother and model Jean Woods, who featured in Channel 4 series Fabulous Fashionistas.

The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced on 24 June. The works will then go on public display at the National Portrait Gallery from 26 June to 21 September, along with 52 of the other entries. The winner also receives a commission to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.

This year’s judges include writer Joanna Trollope, artist Jonathan Yeo and the National Portrait Gallery’s director Sandy Nairne, who said the entries proved it was an “outstanding year of contemporary portrait painting”.

Now in its 35th year and sponsored by BP for 25 years, the award received a record-breaking 2,377 entries from 71 different countries, up from 1,969 last year.

Frankfurt artist Thomas Ganter’s portrait depicts a homeless man called Karel, who he encountered outside a museum.

“By portraying a homeless man in a manner reserved for nobles or saints, I tried to emphasise that everyone deserves respect and care,” said Ganter.

“Human dignity shouldn’t be relative or dependent on socio-economic status.”

Karel, who earns money be cleaning car windscreens, attended five sittings for the portrait during which Ganter painted the head and the hands, before using a life-sized doll to help him paint the clothes and the blanket.

Teacher and artist Richard Twose first encountered model Jean Woods working in a shop in his home city of Bath, and was impressed by her edgy style.

After she featured in Channel Four documentary Fabulous Fashionistas, his daughter revealed she was the grandmother of a friend and a sitting was arranged.

“Sometimes as Jean was talking, especially about her much-missed late husband, she reminded me of Rembrandt’s Portrait of Margaretha de Geer,” said Twose.

“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.”

Brooklyn-based artist David Jon Kassan’s mother was reluctant to sit for him during a visit to New York, so he bribed her with the offer of a painting of her grandson.

“My work is very personal and heartfelt. It’s my visual diary, so my family and loved ones make up a large part of what and why I paint,” said Kassan.

“My parents have always been inspirational to paint. This portrait is a letter to my mom, who hates it when I paint her,” he said.

The Hebrew text painted above her reads: “Dear Mom, this painting is my way to spend more time with you. My way to meditate on our life together, and all of the earliest memories I have, all of my earliest memories from you.”