Upcoming artists are crucial to keeping things fresh. Whilst we pay these practises a certain amount of lip-service and Instagram postage, clicks and shares won’t pay the rent. Art institutions are crucial in providing platforms and forums for the curation of new and promising artistic modes. But some of these can be arcane, leaving art studies struggling to exoterically explain their art. University faculties take refuge in niches. Whilst this enables students to navigate specificities, the outside world neglects this.
Art award schemes can provide graduates an opportunity beyond the white walls of university to express themselves. The variety and vitality of schemes, such as the BP Portrait Award, Frieze Artist Award, and the Sunny Art Prize, provide ways for upcoming artists to be recognised globally. When Art was listed top of Forbes’ 10 worst college majors across the pond, the need for healthy art exchanges is needed more than ever before.
Over 2,557 artists from across 80 countries applied for the BP Portrait Award in 2016. 53 artists were selected by the judging panel and saw their still life come to life in the National Portrait Gallery. So, when just 2% of artists who enter find their work selected and be in the running for £30,000, the program provides a critical platform for portraiture; an arguably dying medium. By divorcing strict figuration, the portraits range from tactile finger painting-esque pieces, to photorealist methods. Commissioned works come to form an exhibition that represents the diversity, creativity, and vision of contemporary portraiture. The competition carries the prestige capable of changing an emerging artist’s life.