This week has seen the opening of two major portrait exhibitions in London, the BP Portrait Award 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery, and the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Competition 2013 at Kings Place Gallery. Both exhibitions are excellent and attending the private views of both, one evening after the other it was striking to see how contrasting these two exhibitions are.
The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Competition 2013 is an inspiring exhibition which brings together a wonderfully diverse selection of paintings, and a wide number of ‘painterly’ paintings unlike the photo-realist portraits mostly favoured by the BP Portrait Award and now the RP exhibitions. This is a refreshing exhibition which is about painting.
I first wrote about Ruth Borchard and her collection following the exhibition The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Collection: the Next Generation last year. There are many painters there I recognised and it was good to see the work of two painter friends Ilaria Roselli Del Turco and David Woodall in this years bi-annual exhibition.
I’ve asked both to write a few words about their self-portraits:
David writes of his painting “I do enjoy painting self-portraits as the model doesn’t cost me anything and he turns up whenever I want him to. The only problem is that I have poor eyesight and therefore find it difficult measuring. I can either focus on my thumb or myself but not both. I want to paint another one but need to see a few exhibitions first, I keep going back to look at the Rodrigo Moynihan and Stanley Spencer paintings for inspiration and pop into the National Portrait Gallery every time I go to London, Ruskin Spears portrait of Francis Bacon and Graham Sutherland’s portraits being my favourites. There’s also a lovely Gwen John self-portrait in one of the rooms.
I am excited about being in the Ruth Borchard exhibition, it is reassuring getting a vote of confidence from other artists”.
Ilaria writes of her thought-provoking self-portrait on her blog, which can be seen here and I have taken this segment from what she writes about her painting…
“The painting is called “It Struck Me Every Day” after the first verse of a poem by Emily Dickinson. I read it while I was painting this work and it made sense to me. The poem has to do with grief, but I thought it could also describe the way our body ages and the feeling that getting old generates. One day I look in the mirror and I seem tired, and the next day as well, and those lines just don’t go away like the storm that should have been brief but Nature has forgotten in the sky in Dickinson’s poem. I thought about people whose hair go gray overnight and to the myth of the Parcae, gray haired goddesses who preside on birth and death.”
The exhibition Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Competition 2013 is showing until 22nd September 2013.
90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.
Open Friday to Sunday 10am – 6pm
Kings Place is a short walk from Kings Cross/ St Pancras International.