‘PIETER’, a portrait by UK based South African artist Susanne du Toit has been shortlisted for the prestigious BP Portrait Award 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The painting is of the artist’s eldest son, and it gives a real feeling for what Pieter’s personality might be like. “I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face… the averted gaze of this portrait, which was his choice, struck me as characteristic of his reflective character, and became intensely engaging,” Du Toit said of the piece.
The painter gave her son the freedom to find his own pose. The only condition was that his hands should feature prominently because hands are ‘essential to communicating personality’.
The competition received close to 2,000 applications from an astounding 77 different countries around the world. A mere 55 portraits were chosen for the exhibition and Du Toit’s has been selected for the top prize along with one other: John Devane’s ‘The Uncertain Time’ which is also a depiction of his children.
The BP Prize is running for the 34th year and has been hailed as one of the world’s most distinguished portrait awards. The winner will receive £30,000 — an increase of £5,000 from previous years — and a National Portrait Gallery commission of £5,000. The second prize is £5,000.
The National Portrait Gallery’s director, Sandy Nairne, said that ‘these two outstanding portraits show the strength of painted portraiture today’.
A life in art
One of du Toit’s favourite pastimes is ‘pushing paint around’, and although she has explored all mediums of art, she says painting is her favourite.
Although she lives in Berkshire now, she was educated at the University of Pretoria and then the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.
The BP Award 2013 will be on show from 20 June to 15 September at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Admission is free.
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