Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A trip to London, the NPG, and the BP Portrait Award

I took a trip to London this weekend to meet up with some old school friends and celebrate our 40th birthdays by going to the last day of the O2 Wireless Festival at Hyde Park.

Before meeting up with them, I had to take some time out to go to the National Portrait Gallery, which I love to do whenever I get the chance. As always, the visit was worthwhile. I think portraiture is one of my favourite "forms" of art. In terms of a painting's emotional impact on me, I think I get more from a portrait than from almost any other subject, much as I love all forms of art. People often mistake portraits as being about the subject, but this is only telling at most half of the story. For me, a portrait is at least as much about the artist as it is about the subject, often more so.

Although it's only about 3 months since my last visit to the NPG, a lot has changed there. In particular, most of the Ondaatje Wing is taken up by the BP Portrait Award 2006, which you can see thumbnails of by clicking the title of this post. I was blown away by this exhibition; the depth of work, the intensity that many of the pieces had, and the quality were quite stunning. Of course, the thumbnails do the exhibition no justice: with exhibits ranging from a few inches square to 6 feet or more in height, the range of pieces on display was enormous. I spent a happy hour looking at this exhibition, basking in the talent that was on display, feeling both inspired and inadequate at the same time.

If you're in London any time before 17th September, do yourself a favour and go and see this exhibition.

And for anyone interested, the Wireless Festival was great too. Treats for the eyes, ears, and heart all in the same day. (Though my feet weren't so happy. I hate my feet.)

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