Andrew Tift Wins National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award

By Richard Moss | 13 June 2006
a triple black and white portrait

Kitty, Andrew Tift. © Andrew Tift

After being short-listed four times and exhibited 10 times, Andrew Tift has won £25,000 first prize in the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award 2006 with a triple portrait of Lucian Freud’s first wife, Kitty.

Tift beat off competition from over a thousand entries including fellow short-listed artists, Rafael Rodriguez Cruz and Angela Reilly to scoop the prize at an award ceremony at the gallery on June 13 2006.

“This year’s BP Award brought an outstanding entry in the range and quality of portraits,” said Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London. “We have a very strong shortlist of prizewinners and Andrew Tift’s first-prize winning entry is a remarkable and penetrating study.”

The winning triptych of Kitty Garman features a subject often painted by Freud, perhaps most famously in Girl with White Dog (1950-51).

Garman used to live just outside Tift’s home town of Walsall, whose New Art Gallery houses her family’s works of art, the Garman Ryan Collection. He had been working on portraits of Kitty for a small show at the Gallery and this triptych is part of that series. Its style was inspired by John Freeman’s 1960s Face To Face TV interviews.

a portrait of a dark haired woman in red roll neck sweater

Model 1 from the series Models of a Self portrait, Rafael Rodriguez Cruz. © Rafael Rodriguez Cruz

“I work in a highly detailed, intensely realistic manner and aim for an absolutely pure and objective likeness. I seek to convey people in the most understanding, intimate and sympathetic way that I can,” said Tift, whose previous work includes portraits of Tony Benn and Neil and Glenys Kinnock.

As well as the £25,000 first prize, Tift also received a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £4,000.

A second prize of £6,000 went to Rafael Rodriguez Cruz, for Model 1 from Models of a Self Portrait. Cruz lives and works in Mexico where he studied architecture and fine arts.

He has exhibited in Mexico and internationally since 1999. His exhibition Ansikte, based on an itinerary around Mexico City, Queretaro and Monterrey, toured Mexico’s national museums.

A third prize of £4,000 went to Angela Reilly, who lives and works in Glasgow and studied fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in the University of Dundee from 1984-1987.

She exhibits frequently in both Edinburgh and London and at the Royal Society of Art and Royal Glasgow Institute where she won the NS Macfarlane award in 2004.

a portrait of a woman in a white shirt

Self-Portrait, Angela Reilly. © Angela Reilly

The Portrait Award, now in its 27th year at the National Portrait Gallery, has developed into a highly successful annual event that encourages young artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture within their work. 2006 saw a record 1,113 entries, compared to 1,081 last year.

56 portraits have been selected for display at the Gallery – 44 from the UK and 12 from abroad.

In the 17th year of its support, BP also announced it was extending its sponsorship of the competition from 2007 until 2011.

"The popularity of this competition with both young artists and the public who visit the National Portrait Gallery to see their work is testament to the vitality of portraiture in the UK,” said Des Violaris, BP’s Director, UK Arts and Culture. “BP is extremely pleased to be able to extend our involvement with the award, which provides a unique opportunity for portrait artists to reach new and wide audiences.”

The Award was judged from original paintings by Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Waldemar Januszczak, Art Critic, The Sunday Times; Lucy Jones, Artist; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery and Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP.

The exhibition, the BP Portrait Award 2006, runs until September 17 2006 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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