News / Art

A professional dancer is on the shortlist for this year’s BP Portrait Award

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Massimiliano Pironti: Quo vadis? (Via National Portrait Gallery)

The judges have spoken: having sifted through 2,583 entries, the National Portrait Gallery has announced the quartet of painters who make up the shortlist for this year’s BP Portrait Award.

The news breaks on the same day that Damien Hirst was revealed to have very generously gifted the British Museum with a hefty wodge of portraits of a former business associate scrawled over breakfast in an upmarket central London cafe.

Hirst’s coffee-stained scribbles are nowhere to be seen on the bill for one of portraiture’s most prestigious prizes. Instead, we’re presented with four works by practitioners who’ve found themselves on the shortlist for the first time: Emma Hopkins, Massimiliano Pironti, Carl-Martin Sandvold, and Charlie Schaffer will find out who picks up the prize on 10 June.

We’re not gamblers by any stretch of the imagination, but we’d (possibly, maybe) plonk a fiver on Massimiliano to win. Not just because the shortlisted painting of his 95-year-old grandmother makes us feel simultaneously tender and sad, either.

No; the man has an undeniably fun backstory to boot. A professional dancer by trade, he swapped the paintbrushes and palettes of art school for the greasepaint and bright lights of life on the stage. There can’t be many other practicing portrait artists who’ve done a lengthy stint in the German version of Tarzan can there?

The winner will get their hands on £35,000 and all the work will be exhibited at the 2019 show, which runs at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 June to 20 October 2019.

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Emma Hopkins: Sophie and Carla (Via National Portrait Gallery)

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Charlie Schaffer: Imara in her Winter Coat (Via National Portrait Gallery)

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Carl-Martin Sandvold: The Crown (Via National Portrait Gallery)