Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery – 12 November 2015 to 21 February 2016

Exhibition Review : Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery – 12 November 2015 to 21 February 2016

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition 2015 is an opportunity to see nearly sixty new portraits by some of the best contemporary photographers from around the world.  The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the leading competitions for contemporary portrait photography and attracts a large number of submissions from professionals and amateurs. This year, there were 4929 submissions from 2,201 photographers from 70 countries. The Prize continues its tradition for  diversity of  subject matter submitted by a range of photographers, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £12,000 first prize.
The winner of the £12,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize was David Stewart, he  began his photography career by photographing punk bands, including the Clash and the Ramones. His winning portrait, Five Girls 2014  shows the photographer’s daughter and her four friends sitting around a table. The photographer  has the remarkable record of having a photograph selected for the competition for the sixteenth time. This year’s portrait mirrors a photograph selected for the 2008 competition which manages to portray the often contradictory nature of teenagers, the very act of trying to look cool merely highlights their self-conscious behaviour.
The £3,000 second prize went to Hector by Anoush Abrar for his portrait of a small child against a dark background, it was inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid. The £2,000 third prize went to Peter Zelewski for Nyaueth, a striking street portrait which is part of his Beautiful Strangers series. The £1,000 fourth prize went to Ivor Prickett for Amira and her Children, a touching portrait of a family in Northern Iraq.
The winner of the John Kobal New Work Award worth £5,000 was Tereza  Červeňová   for her portrait of Yngvild, a quite domestic setting is transformed into almost a Pre Raphaelite style painting where the rustic colours complement the natural beauty of the subject.
The competition was judged on an equal and anonymous basis from original prints by:
This year’s judging panel was:
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair)
David Drake, Director, Fotogallery, Cardiff
Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LPP
Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator, National Galleries of Scotland
Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery
Hannah Starkey, Photographer
The images in the exhibition explore different aspects of the photographic portrait and feature a few famous faces but more often the  friends and family of the photographers. This year, a number of photographers have documented the refugee crisis and the ongoing conflicts around the world.  In a competition of this size, the standard is always high and the various subject matter wide, therefore it is very difficult to choose winners . However, few would argue with the  competition winners who all displayed technical expertise but had a storytelling element. Outside of the competition, the exhibition this year has including some unseen prints from award-winning South African photographer , Pieter Hugo of children from Rwanda and South Africa.

This exhibition is always interesting and entertaining with some wonderful contemporary portraits, the range of photographs offer a wide variety of subject matter which provides evidence of the large number of talented photographers using their skills to record all facets of the human condition. Tickets for the exhibition are £4/£3 and are available in person at the Gallery.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here.

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