Revealed: BP Portrait Award shortlist

Image copyright Hopkins/Pironti

A nude painting of a photographer with her dog and a portrait of a 95-year-old grandmother are on the shortlist for this year’s BP Portrait Award 2019.

There are four finalists, selected from more than 2,500 entries from 84 countries.

The winner, who will pick up £35,000 in prize money, will be announced at a ceremony on 10 June.

All but one of the four shortlisted artists are first-time entrants to the prestigious competition.

One of the images below contains nudity.

Quo Vadis? by Massimiliano Pironti

Image copyright Massimiliano Pironti
Image caption Quo Vadis? by Massimiliano Pironti

Massimiliano Pironti’s portrait Quo Vadis? depicts his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker, now aged 95. Pironti made sketches and took photographs in the kitchen of his grandmother’s home in the Italian town of Gavignano, returning to his studio in Germany for the painting process.

Pironti says: “My grandmother is an example of strength, dignity and authority. Every wrinkle tells her story and I wanted to capture her image to freeze time. This portrait is truly important to me. It touches emotional chords.”

Pironti is also a professional dancer and is currently on stage in a long-running production of the Disney musical Tarzan in Germany.

The Crown by Carl-Martin

Image copyright Carl-Martin Sandvold
Image caption The Crown by Carl-Martin Sandvold

Carl-Martin Sandvold made urban street art during his teenage years before beginning training in Norway, Italy and the US. Sandvold’s current studio is located on the site of Edvard Munch’s former estate on the outskirts of Oslo.

His self-portrait The Crown reflects his interest in “the challenges of life, the strangeness of being alive and other existential issues”.

He adds: “The crown symbolises the peak of power, achievement and material abundance. In this portrait, it suggests one of these things really solve anything.”

Imara in her Winter Coat by Charlie Schaffer

Image copyright Charlie Schaffer
Image caption Imara in her Winter Coat by Charlie Schaffer

London-born Charlie Schaffer’s portrait Imara in her Winter Coat portrays Imara, an English Literature student he met after moving permanently to Brighton.

Schaffer says: “She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who wants to learn about anything and everything.”

Sittings for the portrait took place over four months, with Imara posing in her warmest winter coat to withstand the studio’s cold conditions.

Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its subject’s similar attire.

Sophie and Carla by Emma Hopkins

Image copyright Emma Hopkins
Image caption Sophie and Carla by Emma Hopkins

Emma Hopkins was born in Brighton in 1989 and is self-taught. She focuses almost exclusively on nude portraits and studies of human flesh.

Hopkins’ portrait Sophie and Carla depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog Carla. Mayanne is known for Behind the Scars, a photography project about people’s scars and the stories behind them. It is an interest which Hopkins shares. She says: “I want to understand as much as I can about what it means to be human. We are not just the clothed person we present to the world. We are the mind and body that we inhabit.”

The BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Thursday 13 June to Sunday 20 October 2019.

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