Hennessy Portrait competition throws up some startling gems

BLEAK, beautiful and soul-baring – these are the works that have made it to the final stage of a major portrait competition – and they’re really something special.

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Hennessy and the National Gallery of Ireland yesterday revealed the 12-artist-long shortlist for this year’s Hennessy Portrait Prize. The finalists, decided upon by an esteemed panel of judges, were selected from more than 400 entries, from artists living here and abroad.

The capital was well-represented in their choices. Cian McLoughlin from Dublin made the cut with Tronie, a piece in oil on canvas. His follow Dub Hugh O’Connor’s photograph Beckah, Dublin Airport was shortlisted too, as was Geraldine O’Neill’s Is feidir le cat Schrödinger an dá thrá a fhreastal, Mandy O’Neill’s Cait and Una Sealy’s Hibiscus Blue (Portrait of Douglas).

Bray woman Helen O’Sullivan-Tyrrell has been shortlisted with The Convalescent, and Saoirse Wall, who lives and works between Dublin and Mayo entered Gesture 2, a HD video. Co Donegal artist John Beattie entered another HD video, with An Artist, the Studio and All the Rest.

Northern Irish artist Comhghall Casey, from Omagh, Co Armagh, entered a self-portrait, and self-taught Belfast artist Gavan McCullough entered the competition with his piece This.

Londoner Nick Miller, the only English artist shortlisted, made the list with Last Sitting, Portrait of Barrie Cooke and Canadian artist Erin Quinn, living in Dublin, entered her piece Adam (from her series Breaking Point).

The short-listed works will be exhibited in the National Gallery from November 8 until February 8 next year. The winner will be announced on November 11 and will receive a prize of €15,000. The winning artist will also be awarded a commission worth €5,000 to produce a portrait for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Dr Declan Long said: ‘As judges we have been very pleased to be able to present such a tremendously diverse shortlist.
‘There are paintings, photographs and videos addressing a vibrant mixture of subjects, in a great range of styles, created by both established artists and artists at the very beginning of their career.

‘As such, we hope that this selection gives a strong sense of the many and varied possibilities for portraiture today.’

Post Author: Izabella Jaworska