'Mona Kate' - a portraitist writes

January 25 2013

Image of 'Mona Kate' - a portraitist writes

Picture: NPG

A fine portraitist (take it from me) writes:

I couldn't agree more that the increasing (or very nearly complete?) reliance on photography for portrait painting is a very great shame.

The really sad thing is that visitors to the NPG are now so inundated by photo-based work that it has become not just he norm, but the ideal.  In recent years  the Visitor's Choice at the BP Portrait Award has always been a photo-realist work, usually enormous in size.

Importantly, photo-realism is not always a fetishistic audit of wrinkles and pores, but is often disguised with a lots of brushy paint, a painterly interpretation of a photo.

 I once asked one of the BP Portrait Award judges about how seriously they take the rule that "the work entered should be a painting based on a sitting or study from life", when for so many pictures that sitting must only consist of taking some photos.  How softly do they use the word "should"?  She said that they trust that the artists have followed the rule, but she didn't sound so sure that it was possible to tell when a painting was done from a photo.  I can't say I was too encouraged.

I must say I had no idea that the BP Portrait Award had a 'life sittings' rule - I'd assumed from the quality of the entrants that there were no rules at all. Similar views on the BP Award from Brian Sewell here.

PS - aren't those good photos of the Duchess? If only the NPG could just put those on the wall instead...

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