The BP Portrait Award is the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world and represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting. With a first prize of £35,000, and a total prize fund of £74,000, the Award is aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon and develop portraiture in their work. A fixture at the National Portrait Gallery, London for 40 years - 30 of which have been sponsored by BP - the BP Portrait Award is now in its tenth year at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and continues to be an unmissable highlight of the annual art calendar.
The prestigious first prize was won by Brighton based artist, Charlie Schaffer for Imara in her Winter Coat, a portrait of his close friend. The winning portrait was selected from 2,538 submissions from 84 countries. The judges admired the mannerist style of this portrait, which has a strong sense of a living presence in Schaffer’s composition. The judges went on to say, ‘the skilful depiction of a combination of several different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged looking and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly contemporary.’
Born in London in 1992, winning artist Charlie Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins and then the University of Brighton where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in Fine Art. This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition. Schaffer’s practice is mainly concerned with the act of painting, and how the process that allows the painter and sitter to spend time with one another forms unique and intense relationships.
The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018 was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes. The resulting work will be displayed alongside the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition.
The BP Portrait Award is organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.