BP Portrait Award 2007 Winner

Press Release

20 June 2007

- Bath artist wins £25,000 first prize in record-entry competition opening doors to all artists over 18 for first time
- Czech Republic artist wins first BP Young Artist Award

ON WEDNESDAY 20 JUNE the winner of the BP Portrait Award 2007 was announced by Bianca Jagger at the National Portrait Gallery. In a record-entry year that coincided with the competition dropping its upper age limit, the prestigious first prize was won by 59-year-old artist Paul Emsley from Bradford-upon-Avon, near Bath. His winning portrait is a striking large-scale study of the face of 67-year-old neighbouring artist Michael Simpson. Paul wins £25,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees' discretion, worth £4,000.

In the 18th year of BP support, and at the start of its renewed sponsorship term of five years, the annual Portrait Award this year includes for the first time a Young Artist Award for those aged between 18 and 30. It has been won by Czech artist Hynek Martinec for his portrait of his girlfriend Zuzana. Also announced this year, the BP Travel Award goes, for the first time, to two artists who will go on to portray people encountered on trips to India and Scandinavia.

The winner of the BP Portrait Award 2007 is Paul Emsley, for Michael Simpson
Paul Emsley (b.1947) lives and works in Bradford on Avon, near Bath. Paul has exhibited widely and won several prizes. His portrait is a large close-up of the head of 67-year-old artist Michael Simpson, whom Emsley often meets by chance in Bradford on Avon, each time struck by his appearance. "I find his face and head visually interesting and with a strong presence," he says. "I feel it is essentially European, particularly carrying something of the history of Eastern Europe." Simpson, who is portrayed with his white hair contrasting strongly with a dark background, has Russian ancestry and studied at the Royal College of Art in the 1960s. Michael Simpson is painted in oil on board and measures 1370 x 1120 mm

Second prize winner is David Lawton, for Stephen
David Lawton (b.1959) lives and works near Chester, where he is night support worker for the charity Turning Point. David studied art at Chester College of Further Education before gaining a BA in English and Social Anthropology at Lancaster University. His work has been exhibited widely including the BP Portrait Award 2000 which he entered with a portrait of the same sitter as his entry for this year, his friend Stephen Player, a San Francisco-based illustrator. While the last portrait of him was a nude study, this one is a head and shoulders 'mug-shot' of a still but intense facial expression set against a plain dark background. David Lawton receives £8,000 for Stephen which is painted in oil on canvas panel and measures 270 x 200mm.

Third prize winner is Johan Andersson, for Tamara
Johan Andersson (b.1986) was born in Sweden but lives in Bedfordshire. He is currently studying fine art at Central St Martin's Art and Design College, London where he gained a Foundation Diploma in 2005. His work was exhibited as part of the Direction 2007 Group show at London's Lethaby Gallery. His portrait is of his 21-year-old friend Tamara. Their friendship adds a silent tension which is revealed in the shyness of Tamara's demeanour. "This insecurity of posing nude," he says "is evident in the awkwardness of the pose." Johan says he was trying to challenge attitudes to voyeurism through his portrait. Johan Andersson receives £6,000 for Tamara which is painted in oil on canvas and measures 1000 x 734mm.

The Young Artist Award goes to Hynek Martinec, for Zuzana in Paris Studio
Hynek Martinec (b.1980) was born in Broumov, Czech Republic, but currently works as a freelance painter in Prague, London and Paris. Hynek graduated from the Academy of Fine Art in Prague in 2003 where he was named Student of the Year. His works are in collections in Vienna, Miami, New York as well as the National Gallery Prague and the British Museum. His large portrait is of his girlfriend Zuzana Jungmanova in his Paris studio captured in microscopic facial close-up wearing sunglasses. The photographic precision of the painting results in striking detail in the execution of the sitter's hair and skin tones and in the reflection in her sunglasses.
Hynek Martinec receives £5,000 for Zuzana in Paris Studio which is painted in acrylic on wooden board and measures 1300 x 1100mm.

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: 'Paul Emsley's portrait of fellow artist Michael Simpson is an excellent and deserving winner. Contemporary portrait painting is seen at its best in the renewed BP Portrait Award exhibition.'

Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, says: 'Opening the Award to artists over 40 has proven not only popular, with a large increase in the number of entries, but also immensely successful, as seen in the quality of the entries, the paintings selected for the exhibition and the truly outstanding shortlist.'

For the first time in its 16-year history the BP Travel Award, an annual prize which allows artists to expand their horizons, goes to two winners. In the 1980s artist Timothy Hyman (b1946), became friendly with a close-knit group of Indian artists ­ most of them now in the sixties. A few weeks ago he returned to India briefly, after a gap of more than ten years, and he now plans to spend more time there to portray each of these artists, and to make a large commemorative group portrait. Artist Gareth Reid (b1974) is going to travel around the coast of Denmark, visiting some of the hundreds of Scandinavian "vinterbaderklubs" (winterbathing clubs) in Jylland, Fyn and Sjaelland and to paint their members who, during the winter months regularly, of their own free will, swim in man-made ice holes.

14 June-16 September 2007
Last year the Award was won by Toby Wiggins who travelled in a camper van from Dorset to the New Forest, in the beautiful southern English countryside immortalised as Wessex in the novels of Thomas Hardy. In this year's exhibition Toby shows the changes in agricultural communities by portraying people engaging in a wide variety of rural work. The resulting works by Toby are displayed alongside the BP Portrait Award 2007.

A fully-illustrated book accompanies the exhibition and features an introductory essay by Lynne Truss, author of the hugely successful Eats, Shoots & Leaves. The BP Portrait Award 2007 book will be published in June 2007, and will include c. 60 colour illustrations, price £8.50 (pbk).

The BP Portrait Award and Travel Award exhibition will tour to Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from 13 October ­ 2 December 2007, and to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, from 14 December 2007 ­ 16 March 2008.

Notes to Editors
The 2007 BP Portrait Award received a record 1870 entries, compared to 1113 last year, an increase of over 70%. 60 portraits have been selected for display at the Gallery ­ 45 from the UK and 15 from abroad. The Award was judged from original paintings by Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair), Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Chief Art Critic, The Times, Erin O'Connor, model, Jason Brooks, Artist, Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP

The 2007 and 2006 BP Travel Awards were judged by Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Liz Rideal, Learning Manager, Art, National Portrait Gallery, Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP. Artists are eligible to enter the Travel Award provided they have been selected for exhibition at the BP Portrait Award ­ the work of Timothy Hyman and Gareth Reid can also be seen as part of this year's exhibition.

BP has sponsored the annual BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery since 1990. BP recognises the role arts and culture play in the British economic and social fabric and BP's arts programme includes support for some of the UK's outstanding arts and cultural institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, the Royal Opera House and the British Museum.

The National Portrait Gallery is open daily from 10am ­ 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) and Thursdays and Fridays until 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm). Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information : 020 7306 0055 www.npg.org.uk


1. Total number of entrants 1870
2. UK Entries 1480 (80%)
3. International Entries 390 (20%)
4. Over 40 Entries 706 (37.75%)
5. 30 and under Entries 592 (31.6%)
6. Between 30 and 40 Entries 572 (30.5%)

6. Exhibition entrants over 40 16 (26%)
7. Exhibition entrants 30 and under 18 (30%))
8. Exhibition entrants 30 ­ 40 years 26 (43%)

9. International artists 15 (25%)
10. Countries represented by artists in Exhibition (other than UK):
Israel (1); USA (4); Italy (2); Romania (1); Norway (1); France (1); Greece (1); Bulgaria (1); Germany (2); Spain (1)

For further press information please contact Neil Evans, Press Officer, National Portrait Gallery, Tel 020 7312 2452 or 07790 428638 Email nevans@npg.org.uk

For press images please go to www.npg.org.uk/about/press.php