CON­TENDER FOR POR­TRAIT PRIZE

KIL­MAC ARTIST NI­CHOLAS ROBIN­SON’S PAINT­ING OF MARY-KATE LANIGAN IS IN THE NA­TIONAL GALLERY

Wicklow People - - NEWS -

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

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