Young artist wins portrait award
A 23-year-old unknown artist has beaten a number of older and more experienced painters to win NZ’s premier portrait award - the 2014 NZ Portrait Gallery/Adam Portraiture Award and Exhibition.
Art runs in the family for winner Henry Christian-Slane. His father Chris Slane is the cartoonist for The Listener, and his mother is an Auckland artist. His grandfather, NZ’s first Privacy Commissioner Sir Bruce Slane was an early supporter of his talent and last year commissioned his grandson to paint three portraits in order for him to finance a trip to the United Kingdom to study. It is one of these, a portrait of his cousin Tim, which won him the coveted award, making him the youngest-ever winner of this 14 year old award. He exemplifies the popular image of the ‘starving artist’ in that he scrimped and saved in his determination to become a portrait artist, working out of an unheated Auckland studio with a rug and a hot water bottle to complete his portraits. His 21st birthday present was the money to take a portrait course at art school.
Visiting judge Nicola Kalinsky, director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham initially selected 62 portraits from an overall entry of 336. She said of the winning portrait “This is talented, honest and direct work making you feel you want to spend more time with the subject. It has a renaissance feel to it, suggesting someone on the brink of wider adult experience, much like the painter himself. The work indicates a talent well beyond the years and experience of the artist and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more of him”.
Judging was very tight, and there are a number of Highly Commended entries. The Adam Award and Exhibition is open daily at the NZ Portrait Gallery at Shed 11 until May 25th.
Media Release: New Zealand Portrait Gallery