I visited the exhibition of the entries in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize before I had seen reports of the winners and when I got there I first walked around quite quickly before looking at which entries had won awards to try and avoid being overly influenced by the judge’s decisions. Following this I walked around slowly looking closely at the work and taking in which portraits had won awards.
As soon as I saw it I really liked Claudio Rasano’s portrait of the South African schoolboy in his school uniform. There is something striking about the intensity of his gaze, he has something of the expression of a sullen teenager and perhaps the way his tie hangs outside his blazer hints at a certain rebelliousness.
The second portrait I liked was Kovi Konowiecki’s portrait of Shimi beitar IllIt and Orthodox Jewish violinist. This picture was part of a series that Konowieck took depicting the members of the family. It is hard to say what I really like about this, I think it is probably the contrast between the figure in formal religious consume with a very serious expression captured in front of what is loud floral wallpaper. I don’t think this portrait would be anything like so successful had it been shot against a plain background.
My next pick is Andy Lo Po’s portrait of Simon Callow in which from a distance the tonal balance looks almost like a water colour painting. It also shows a side of Simon Callow that perhaps we are not used to, for someone who has such an exuberant personality in this picture he looks strangely contemplative.
Josh Redman’s work “France, February 2016” won the award for best new work and to me it is a very striking picture of an older sitter in a pose that would normally be used for much younger subjects. There is something very classical about the lighting, it reminds me of style of some renaissance painters. Also, France’s expression indicates she is really enjoying her first steps into modelling at the age of 83.
Finally, Charlie Clift’s portrait of Nigel Farge, where you like his personality or his politics to me this picture really captures the buoyant self-confidence that is he public persona.