CONTENDER FOR PORTRAIT PRIZE
KILMAC ARTIST NICHOLAS ROBINSON’S PAINTING OF MARY-KATE LANIGAN IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY
Kilmacanogue artist Nicholas Robinson’s enigmatic and darkly dramatic portrait of model Mary-Kate Lanigan is hanging in the National Gallery as part of this year’s National Portrait Prize.
‘I feel strongly allied to Wicklow,’ said Nicholas, who last year displayed a portrait of his parents Maeve and Keith as part of the same competition.
The short-listed works in the Zurich Portrait Prize 2018 were hung at the gallery last week. They are 25 out of 300 entries to the prestigious competition.
Furthermore, Nicholas will be holding his first solo show next February at Signal Arts Centre.
This is the fifth year of the annual competition showcasing contemporary portraiture. The competition attracts entries from across the island of Ireland, and from Irish artists living abroad.
One artist receives a prize of €15,000 and a commission worth €5,000 to produce a new work for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection.
Two additional prizes of €1,500 will be awarded to highly commended works by the 2018 judging panel - Tanya Kiang, Geraldine O’Neill, and Sue Rainsford - and will be announced on October 22.
‘I contacted Kilkenny model Mary-Kate Lanigan to ask her to pose for me after I saw an article mentioning her in the Irish Independent,’ said Nicholas, on how they came to work together. ‘She very kindly agreed and the collaboration produced a charcoal drawing and this oil portrait.
‘Visually I wanted to create simple black and white masses in the choice of background, the clothing, and Mary-Kate’s features. In London I had seen an Ilya Repin portrait called Portrait of Baroness Varvara Ikskul von Hildenbandt, which had a long bookmark-shaped frame with a similar white background and simple masses of colour,’ said Nichols.
‘The composition and style in this Repin portrait prompted my approach to this painting.
‘The portrait is almost life-size. I hope that working as close to life-size as possible adds to any sense of presence the painting may have. I tried to convey the natural gentleness I felt was apparent in her expression, gesture and her face itself.
‘In my experience having a good model can really make the work and I was extremely fortunate in this case to find someone both so professional and good-natured to pose for me.’
Nicholas is currently teaching figurative painting and drawing from life in various venues around the country. This allows him to paint and draw in his studio in Wicklow, his home county.
He has exhibited in, among other recent group shows in Ireland, the RUA and RHA annual exhibitions, and was selected for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters show in London.
Nicholas trained in drawing and painting from life in Sweden under Joakim Ericsson after graduating from NCAD and Crawford College of Art and Design.
CEO of Zurich Insurance Patrick Manley said: ‘Portraiture is a rich and exciting art form, which often reflects the realities of everyday life.
‘The National Gallery of Ireland’s portrait prize is a wonderful showcase of the abundant talent around us, and gives many gifted artists the opportunity to have their work hang in the prestigious location that is the National Gallery of Ireland. Zurich is very proud to be associated with this competition.’
ABOVE: Nicholas Benedict Robinson. RIGHT: Nicholas’s portrait