Today after work I dropped by the National Portrait Gallery to catch an exhibition in its last days.
In Trafalgar Square, buzzing with the usual crowds of tourists, I was distracted by scenes of light on water
This is home of course to the National Gallery ...
... but I love its little sister around the corner
opposite St Martin in the Fields ...
This is an annual award for portraits by contemporary artists. This year's winner had more than the usual press for its controversial subject: Daphne Todd painted her mother in the three days after her death (not surprisingly, upsetting some members of her family). I'd expected to find it striking, but found myself rather unmoved and uncomfortably voyeur-like.
(photo credit: artknowledgenews.com)
I loved many others in this incredibly varied bunch of portraits, though. Shany van der Berg is a Stellenbosch artist whose work I've admired for years, and her entry to the exhibition was this raw and wonderful painting of her mother holding her great grand-daughter
(photo credit: shanyvdb.com)
Another of my favourites was Eliot Haigh's portrait of Quena - I would give absolutely anything to own this picture -
(photo credit: daantidote.tumblr.com)
… and Michael Ozibiko’s huge canvas, titled iDeath, of a young woman wearing earphones, her head down, focusing on her iPod and her music, a distant non-emotional look on her face. The photographic quality of this oil painting is astounding. Interestingly, this is the portrait that was voted winner by a public vote.