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Self-taught artist Jiab Prachakul wins BP Portrait Award

Night Talk (Jiab Prachakul/BP Portrait Award/PA)
Night Talk (Jiab Prachakul/BP Portrait Award/PA)

The BP Portrait Award has been won by self-taught artist Jiab Prachakul for a painting of her friends in a bar in Berlin.

Born in Thailand, Prachakul relocated to London around 2007, where she was inspired to become an artist after seeing a David Hockney retrospective.

Night Talk was selected to win first prize out of 1,981 entries from 69 countries, and is on display in the National Portrait Gallery’s online exhibition, while the London gallery remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prachakul, 40, was chosen as winner by a judging panel which included Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, and artist Benjamin Sullivan.

Portrait Of Denis: Actor, Juggler And Fashion Model (Sergey Svetlakov/BP Portrait Award/PA)

Her piece portrays Jeonga Choi, a designer from Korea, and Makoto Sakamoto, a composer from Japan, in a Berlin bar on an autumn evening.

The portrait explores notions of individual identity and how perceptions of selfhood can change over time.

Prachakul said: “Our identity is dictated to us from the moment we are born, but as we grow up, identity is what we actually choose to be.

“I do believe that our circle of friends is what makes us who we are.”

Prachakul wins a £35,000 prize and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000.

Labour Of Love (Michael Youds/BP Portrait Award/PA)

Dr Cullinan said: “Congratulations to all the prize-winning artists and those selected for the exhibition.

“Many people are turning to art and, in particular, portraiture during these challenging times and I am delighted that we are able to share some of the very best examples of contemporary portrait practise from artists across the world with audiences at home through our online exhibition.

“It is a privilege to chair the judging process and I would like to thank all the artists who entered the 2020 competition.”

Des Violaris, director of UK arts and culture and Paralympics at BP, said: “The announcement of the winner of the BP Portrait Award is always an exciting moment and this year is no exception, with an even bigger audience able to view Jiab’s fabulous portrait in the virtual exhibition online.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s category winners, and indeed all of the artists selected to be shown in the 2020 exhibition.”

Restless (Egbert Modderman/BP Portrait Award/PA)

The second prize of £12,000 went to Russian artist Sergey Svetlakov for Portrait Of Denis: Actor, Juggler And Fashion Model.

The third prize of £10,000 went to Michael Youds, a gallery attendant at the National Galleries of Scotland, for his portrait Labour Of Love.

The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 was won by Dutch artist Egbert Modderman for Restless, which depicts the Old Testament figure of Eli.

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