Every year, (for about 30 years now) I go up to London to take in the RA Open Exhibition and the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery. Almost consistently I find this the most exciting of the two, showing the work often of young artists who can capture character, draw and paint and produce memorable images of stunning skillfulness. It also always draws huge crowds, (no doubt helped by the fact that it is free.) This year however the gallery I thought made a mistake, devoting nearly the whole of the ground floor to an exhibition featuring deceased pop star Michael Jackson. This showed the works he commissioned and the responses to him of some leading American artists. As a result of this huge exhibition the usual galleries used for the BP portrait exhibition were lost and the exhibition placed in the much smaller front ground floor gallery. A pity, for as their blurb says, the BP award has become a huge international success.
One good innovation that I only noticed this year is that if you go to the NPG website you can view the winners and several of the other entries and you can order prints of any of them. https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bp-portrait-award-2018/exhibition/exhibitors/
They also, like the RA are happy to let visitors take photos – as I have done. I find this really valuable.
Three portraits I thought outstanding I attach here.
The winner. An Angel at my Table by Miriam Escofet, Almost life size. Bruce Robinson by Alistair Adams, Principal Dancer, Royal Ballet Francesca Hayward by Vanessa Garwood and from the Michael Jackson show the singer following Rubens portrait of Philip 2 of Spain.
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