© Ivan Franco

BP Portrait Award 2012 and BP Travel Award 2011

For the last six years I have been an avid follower of The BP Portrait Awards. It showcases the best in contemporary portrait painting from around the world; presenting outstanding and innovative new work in a variety of styles and approaches, and it has mostly definitely been one of the annual highlights of my exhibition calendar.

The portraiture exhibited varies from informal and personal studies of friends and family, to revealing paintings of famous faces who have sat for the painters. This year’s exhibition features fifty-five works selected from 2,187 international entries. Prizes awards are First, Second and Third place, the BP Young Artist Award and also on display is the work of the BP Travel Award 2011 winner.

If I was giving out awards, these would be my choice picks:

© Antonios Titakis

Silent Eyes
by Antonios Titakis

Acrylic on canvas
2200 x 1540 mm

Antonios Titakis is a graduate of the Athens School of Fine Arts. His work has been seen on display in the Athens War Museum and in the 2009 Athens Biennale.

This portrait is of the artist’s friend Dimitra and is part of a larger body of work. The artist felt a particular connection with the sitter as she had recently experienced the death of her father, as he had. Titakis says of the method used: ‘I used black and white acrylics, focusing on the delicate balance of tones. Broadening the spectrum without adding a third colour has been a challenge.’

Second Prize

Le ( Salmacis Num.3 )
by Ivan Franco Fraga

Oil on canvas
800 x 1200 mm

Ivan Franco Fraga is a graduate in fine arts, specialising in painting, at the University of Vigo, Galicia, Spain. His work has been seen in numerous exhibitions and competitions in Spain and in a solo exhibition at Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife.

The portrait is of the artist’s girlfriend, Leticia and was painted over the course of a year. It reinterprets the classical myth of the nymph Salmacis, an unusual figure in Greek mythology as a female protagonist who pursues a male character. She is merged into one being with her target, the deity Hermaphrodite.

It’s work like this that blows my mind. Not emotionally like some paintings do, but just the sheer technical ability is staggering.

Third Prize

by Nathan Ford

Oil on Canvas
280 x 200 mm

Nathan Ford took a BA (Hons) degree in fine art at Byam Shaw School of Art. His work has been seen in solo exhibitions in Bath and group exhibitions including those of the Royal Society of British Artists (2001 2002, 2012) and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (1999–2011), whose Winsor and Newton Young Artist of the Year Award he won in 2001, 2003 and 2010. His work was included in the BP Portrait Award in 2000, 2010 and 2011.

The portrait is of the artist’s son.

Nathan has been an artist that has stood out for me a number of times in competition over the last couple of years.

You can view entried for the entire competition over at and the exhibition is on until September 23rd.


  1. The Ivan Fraga work is simply staggering….everything is perfect in it, how on earth has he achieved such smooth complexity in the hairs, and minute colour transitions. Divine work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s