The judges were particularly struck by the tenderness of Sullivan's composition, which depicts his breast-feeding wife during a moment of calm. While the title nods to the traumatic nature of his daughter's birth, the composition is soothing, capturing the intimacy of the maternal bond. Judge Kirsty Wark said: 'The woman is tired. She is in love. Her life has changed forever.' Sullivan, who has been shortlisted for the winning prize 13 times, takes home £30,000 and a National Portrait Gallery commission worth £5,000.
The second prize of £10,000 was awarded to French painter and illustrator Thomas Ehretsmann (also selected for exhibition in 2016) for Double Portrait, which depicts his wife Caroline walking in the park. Third prize was awarded to Antony Williams' portrait Emma, depicting model-turned-friend Emma Bruce in his studio.
Portraiture is not the buzziest of art forms. Seen lately as high-minded and serious, it can can be oddly joyless. Smiles are rare, while wizened geriatrics and disenchanted, hard-faced youths abound. But the two galleries dedicated to the 53 exhibited paintings are lined with an engaging selection of sitters, of all ages and races. It is certainly not ground-breaking in its curatorial layout, but a good number of the exhibited portraits convey stories that intrigue you enough to make you stop and think.
Look out for Society! by Oxford graduate Khushna and 86 (Rhyming Slang for Worth Nix) by Jane Kearney, both in the back gallery. Kearney masterfully captures the beams of streaming light and the stealthy shadows lingering in the corners of the run-down car-park. The atmospheric composition draws you into the frame while the sitter's piecing, sultry gaze forces you to question the fabric of her life story. Why is she sitting in an abandoned car-park? Why is she alone? Why does she feel worthless as the title suggests?
Now in its 38th year, the award aims to promote and support emerging and existing global talent. The exhibition, in which 53 portraits are displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, always draws a variety of responses to the portraiture remit, with intensely human stories at the heart of the works.
This free exhibition in London is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors, so go and decide for yourself who your favourite is at this summer’s eclectic showcase of portrait paintings.
|What||Review: BP Portrait Award 2017, National Portrait Gallery|
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE | MAP
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
22 Jun 17 – 24 Sep 17, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more details|