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 1st Prize for portrait painting at the international competition ModPortrait.

ModPortrait is the prestigious international  portrait competition that takes place  in European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona. 

 

I like to compete in tough international contests. However, in the period of submission to ModPortrait  I  was busy with moving studio and didn’t have the opportunity to complete a larger piece. I sent a painting  I was happy with, but it was small. After having a look on other submissions, I thought it had a slim chance of getting attention amidst all the  large, technically impressive works. 

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And then I received this coveted email with congratulations on winning the 1st Painting Prize. It took me some time to realise that at that moment, my humble ‘Against Straight Lines’ was chosen to become the best portrait of the year!

I couldn’t wait to travel to Barcelona to receive the award- and my 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately, the outbreak of pandemic has cancelled the plans for most people in the world.

Fortunately, the director of MEAM  Josè Manuel Infiesta and director of ModPortrait Josè Enrique Gonzalez decided that it was unfair that the artists should be robbed of their awards ceremony. They moved the event to the following 2020, to be shared with the award winners for that year. Unfortunately, therefore I  didn’t get the big banner with my painting on the museum’s facade.

However,  I did get something better.

Usually,  when you win the competition, you just informed of the jury’s decision. You never get to hear the details of what their choice was based on. 

Perhaps as a silver lining for the lack of banner,  the director Jose Manuel Infiesta decided to make an exception. He took me aside and asked whether I would like to hear what the jury said about my work.

The words came from the nestor of realistic painting  Antonio Garcia López, an artist whose work I always admired.  He has been described by the famous art critic Robert Huges as ‘the greatest realist artist alive". He said:

“This painting should win. It has the high technical skill, bold use of colour, and focus on what is important today. It’s what a contemporary portrait should look like.”

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Meeting the Royals - 2018

On November 15th 2018, The Anglo-Norse Society was celebrating the centenary of its foundation with a champagne reception at the In&Out, Naval and Military Club at St James’s Square, London.

 

The Anglo-Norse Society is a registered charity for the purpose of promoting understanding between Britain and Norway through cultural and educational exchange.

 

On  this memorably important occasion, the event was attended by Society’s Patrons, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.M. King Harald V.

The reception was held in the King Harald’s Room, where the collection of paintings of Norwegian Royal family is on permanent display - including my portrait of H.M. Queen Maud of  Norway (1869-1938). She was the spouse of King Haakon VII and Queen Victoria’s grand-daughter. Queen Maud, who became a great ambassador of Norwegian culture, was also remembered by the splendour of her dresses and her unbelievable tiny waist.

Her portrait for the Royal collection was commissioned by The Norwegian Club in London.

I had the honour  to be invited to the reception and to be presented to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.M. King Harald V, alongside other prominent Norwegians who are contributed to promoting Norwegian art and culture in Britain.

 

Their Majesties arrived separately and were circulating the premises before meeting the quests. As The Queen was moving around King Harald’s Room, my painting of Queen Maud was pointed out to Her Majesty. When I was presented to her, I had to take her hand and state my name and my profession. After I did that, I mentioned my portrait  - and she promptly commented that she just saw the painting and then complemented me on my work.

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II has an amazing presence. With 200 people at the venue, she talked to me as if I was the most important person in the room - and that is exactly what The Queen can do. However, when I held her hand and looked into her eyes - even for just a short time, I could sense her both as The Queen and the person she is. It is hard to explain, but that is exactly what I can do as the artist.

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His Majesty King Harald was very warm and engaging, and took his time to chat with people he was familiar with. Although it was my first time to meet The King, he made me feel very comfortable - like I’ve met him before. I certainly hope that I will again.

 

It was truly remarkable opportunity to be able to meet two great monarchs at once - and it created a wonderful memory that I will cherish.

 

My gratitude to the Anglo-Norse Society http://anglo-norse.org.uk/.

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Photos courtesy of Phil McCarthy

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