Entertainment & Arts

BP Portrait Award reveals 2015 shortlist

National Portrait Gallery
Image caption The works will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery

Three artists from the UK, Spain and Israel have been shortlisted for this year's BP Portrait Award at London's National Portrait Gallery, in a record-breaking year for entries.

British artist and three time runner-up Michael Gaskell is listed for a photo-realist painting of his niece Eliza.

He is up against Spanish painter Borja Buces Renard's My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening and Israeli artist Matan Ben-Cnaan's Annabelle and Guy.

The winner will be announced in June.

The works will then go on display at the National Portrait Gallery from 18 June to 20 September, along with 52 of the other entries.

On top of the £30,000 prize, the winner also receives a commission worth £5000 to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection.

This year, artists were allowed to submit images of their portraits digitally for the first time.

Organisers said this accounts for the striking increase in entries - 2,748 portraits, up from 2,377 last year.

The judging panel this year includes historian Simon Schama, artist Peter Monkman, and the National Portrait Gallery's Acting Director, Pim Baxter, who said "it was good to see even more international artists entering".

He added: "My fellow judges and I were impressed by the different styles of portraiture, some quite new to the exhibition, and intrigued by the different 'stories' behind the portraits."

Now in its 36th year and sponsored by BP for 27 years, the competition received portraits from 92 different countries.

Michael Gaskell's Eliza

Leicester-based Gaskell has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibitions five times, and was second prize winner on three occasions.

He was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 2012 to paint a portrait of climate scientist Sir James Lovelock.

His shortlisted portrait is of his 14-year-old niece Eliza, and was influenced by the work of the 15th Century painter Hans Memling.

"I hope this painting conveys a sense of Eliza's growing confidence as she develops into a woman, but retains some of the self-consciousness which was also present at the time," said Gaskell.

Borja Buces Renard's My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening

Buces Renard, who works and lives between Madrid and Florida, has painted his mother and brother in the living room of his parents' house on a typical Sunday.

His father had not been able to join for such Sunday gatherings in some time, due to an illness which led to his death a few weeks after the painting was finished.

"Making this weekly event slowly disappear, I wanted to portray this emotion in my painting," he said.

Matan Ben-Cnaan's Annabelle and Guy

Ben-Cnaan is from the north of Israel.

His portrait features his friend Guy and step-daughter Annabelle, though he describes it as allegorical and partly inspired by the biblical story of Jephthah.

"The rough wall and rugged gravel echo the grittiness and grief in Guy's (Jephthah's) character, whilst the fig tree, casting an ominous shadow, presages Annabelle's fate," he said.

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