Contemporary Arts Trust prize: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition

4 May 2017 to 19 May 2017 10am to 5pm

RP Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2017 at Mall Galleries, The Mall, St. James’s, London SW1 +44 (0)20 7930 6844

RP Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2017 winner of the Contemporary Arts Trust Alice Batkin Award is Vania Comoretti.  Contemporary Arts Trust judges chose Dual, this dual portrait of a 94 year-old grandmother and 40 year-old granddaughter for several reasons: Firstly it brings a fresh take on portraiture which not only looks at genetic inheritance spanning 40 or 50 years, but it also does it very sensitively. Not only is each portrait very carefully and beautifully observed, but the viewer can perceive the character of both grandmother and granddaughter without having to bypass the quirky criticism of an artist's idiosyncrasies. The artist has marked in the lower margin each colour she has used and it is remarkable that she has achieved such colour subtlety from so few colours. A new and interesting take on one of the oldest forms of artistic expression, whilst retaining the spirit of purpose of portraiture and a worthy winner. Vania Comoretti was born in Udine (Italy) in 1975. and she now works and lives in Udine and Venice. 

The Artist writes:

DUAL “Every individual possesses in his or her mind an image of his or her real and ideal self”. DUAL by Vania Comoretti consisting of a series of works - diptychs - looking at the human figure with microscopic attention and through introspective analysis. Self-image has a great influence on the development of personality, and every individual possesses in his or her mind an image of his or her real and ideal self. Creation of a double in art is normally a key to interpretation of state of mind, as a matrix from which the individual can start looking in order to understand and obtain something more of himself. The double, defined as a doubling of reality, is a concept present in philosophical, religious, psychological and psychoanalytic thought. All psychoanalytic theory is a “science of the Double”; in it we find similar and opposite entities, pairs, which together co-establish the personality of the individual as a whole and its complexity. In this project similarity is not a mere banal repetition of the external appearance of the figure, as in so-called pictorial realism, but, through doubling of analytic representation, in which there are both differences and similarities, the intention is to restore order to the elements making up the identity of the subjects of the study. The artist uses watercolour, ink and pastel on paper to focus on the details of the face, of which we can see the inside, thanks to careful observation and almost microscopic study revealing signs, nerves, muscles and tissues. Of all the parts of the body, the face is the one that permits the artist to render visible both emotional states, through expressions, and blood ties, through the study of the anatomical details that characterise individuals and recur in different generations of the same family. The link between the subjects is recognisable. The two halves side by side do not form a single perfect image, but the double portrait becomes a single symbiotic icon in which similarities swing back and forth between different genders, ages and stages of development.

The diptych is composed of the images of two different people, respectively 40-year-old granddaughter and 92-year-old grandmother. Between the two women there is a genetic bound traceable in the structure of the face and the color of the iris.

The RP is a fascinating exhibition which always attracts some well-known faces both on and off the walls.  It is a showcase of some the best recent portraits by artists at all stages in their careers from eminent masters to emerging new talent. It encompasses a huge range of characters, styles and media, showing the breadth of the contemporary painted portrait.

Commissions are vital to this genre so Consultants are available throughout the show to help anybody who would like to know more about commissioning a portrait. 

Contemporary Arts Trust Alice Batkin Award has been generously donated by the Batkin Family.

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