Man with a Plaid Blanket by Thomas Ganter (© Thomas Ganter)
First Prize Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2014 @ NPG
The portrait is of Karel, who lives on the streets in Ganter’s neighborhood. Ganter asked Karel to help recreate a moment when the artist had noticed the similarities of clothing and pose between the subjects of old master paintings and individuals wrapped in blankets living on the streets.
Ganter says: “By portraying a homeless man in a way only nobility or saints used to be portrayed, I tried to emphasize that everyone deserves respectful treatment, attention, and care.”
All the judges were struck by the intensity of the sitter’s gaze and how every texture and surface is rendered in intricate detail, from the icon-like gold chain fence to the rose in the crumpled paper cup.
The First Prize winning portrait is rarely the one that stands out for me, but this year, man oh man, do we have a clear winner. Hands down. Ganter’s portrait is sucking all the colours from the room. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the gold background, Karel’s face, the blanket, the gold, the face, the blanket, the gold, the face, the blanket, the gold, the face…