BP PORTRAIT AWARD 2008 in Wolverhampton

I’ve seen this exhibition recently

Lots of good art – painterly, skill full and thought-full portraits. For example, Lliana by Krasimir Kolev, Amanda Smith at Vincent Avenue by Simon Davis, Kristy, 3rd Attempt by Geert Schless, Natalie by Jason Walker, Her Name Is Rio by Lucie Cookson, Blue Pool (Datuk Vinod Sekhar Family) by Paul Benney (kids favorite – swimming pool), Melanie by Jackie Anderson (my favorite – a lady in fog).

But two tendencies a bit upset me. First, quite a number of works looked just like good resolution professional photos blown up on canvas. (E.g. Untitled by Peiyuan Jiang – Young Artist Award; Metamorphosis by José Luis Corella Garcia (I actually like the picture), Meralby Joanna Yates). Whats a point of painting then? The eye sees differently to the camera lens anyway. The only case (in my opinion) when photorealistic style really works its when there is no way that you can actually take picture of the subject (if its from the past or from fantasy)

Secondly, there is that hint of admiration of ugliness, illness and injury in some works (like in Sunny Jim by Sue Burns, Hannah O’Brien by Robert O’Brien). I don’t mean at all that only classically beautiful people should be painted. But I always thought that the good portrait artist should try to find inner beauty and kindness in any subject. Unless the artist wants to offend or humiliate somebody (including themselves).

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