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“The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth.”

is attributed to Harold Evans,

British journalist and former editor of The Sunday Times (1967 – 1981).

So it is that today, the camera and film technology has advanced as to be able

to render an invented truth, one bearing little likeness to the person shown.

In the beginning …

Yet, during the late 19th century

the introduction of photographic film in camera use

developed by the American George Eastman,

(inventor of the Kodak camera)

revolutionized the mass appeal and use of photographic images.

Photographs became the quick, instantaneous method of capturing an indivdual

in a moment of existence.

At that time, it seemed the purpose of camera and photo were crystal:

the camera …  exposed, isolated, arrested an expression in an instant.

the photo …  a genuine product, an honest rendering

And of the painted portrait …

As a result of the immediate results achieved by the camera,

our centuries – old acceptance of the painted portrait

as an image, which could singularly uncover

genuine glimpses of personality had waned.

The allure of the photographic portrait had taken hold.

The whole truth and nothing but …

Yet, the camera can lie and the photo making process manipulated

to ensure an idealised / flawless result.

The immediate ability to snap, crop, photoshop images

 to obtain a false beauty, leads to querying over the

the photographic portrait as 20/20.

The quote by Harry Evans can be applied to this

potential for deception, of possible manipulation.

Given the achievements of 21st century photographic technology,

the camera and its enhanced photo product can be of questionable reliance.

A general skepticism of photographic portraiture

may well be an instrument for

a defined resurgence of interest in portraiture painting:

a likeness rendered by the process of mixing paints and studied observation

over the immediacy of an image ‘caught on film’.

These two media for portraiture:  painting and photography

(sculpture excepted in this piece)

if executed well and honestly, can bare raw

a sitter’s mood, emotion, thought.

Yet, which is more successful at accomplishing this objective?

Which is truer … that procured through the eyes of the lens

or that seen by the naked eye?


The annual BP Portrait Award

receives submissions of portrait paintings from around the world.

Many are of the works are of ordinary people,

some are of public figures.

In its 35 years at the National Portrait Gallery – London

the competition has become a high point of the art social calendar.

This year’s finalists were chosen from over 2,000 entrants,

with the winner receiving prize money of £30,000.

Given the overwhelming responses from

both artist entrants and the general public,

there is definitely a massive interest in and appeal of

the painted portrait:

a window to glimpse not a solitary instant –

but a combination of moments.

Possibly then,  a more whole / natural / truer  picture of the sitter?



This year’s winning BP Portrait Award

was submitted by German artist

Thomas Ganter.

his painting is entitled:

A Man with a Plaid Blanket

BP portrait winner 14 by thomas ganter_75805071_ganter_pa

Mr. Ganter elaborates on his choice of sitter and his work’s message/symbolism:

“After being in a museum, I saw a homeless man and was stunned by a similarity: the clothes, the pose, and other details resembled what I just saw in various paintings,” he said.  “However, this time I was looking at a homeless person wrapped in a blanket and not at the painting of a saint or noble in their elaborate garment.By portraying a homeless man in a manner reserved for nobles or saints, I tried to emphasise that everyone deserves respect and care.  He continues,
“Human dignity shouldn’t be relative or dependent on socio-economic status.”

In addition to Mr. Ganter’s painting

52 other entries are on display

in the exhibition.

BP Portrait Award 2014
National Portrait Gallery – London
runs until 21 September 2014
Admissions is free
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