Art Review: Taylor Wessing Prize @ National Portrait Gallery

The Taylor Wessing Prize is an annual competition to find the best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world, from amateurs to professionals. This year it attracted over 5,000 submissions from over 2,350 photographers. This exhibition includes some of the highlights including the winners and runners up (pictured).

This annual exhibition always contains works that reflect modern events so it’s no surprise to see portraits of both Mo Farah and Victoria Pendleton on display. The group photo of young girls in a darkened room huddled  around a laptop, their faces aglow from the glare of the screen, is an iconic symbol of the digital age. To shine a light on the darker aspects of life there are also photographs of a solider who lost his limbs to an improvised explosive device and in one of our favourites a Libyan migrant worker can barely be seen through a bus window streaked with raindrops – a metaphor for how invisible he feels in the country he works in.

The cosmopolitan nature of London is highlighted in a family portrait of a white Canadian man, his black Zambian wife and their child. Though are favourite photograph is of road workers in Old Delhi – they work at night due to the daytime heat yet this makes their task extremely dangerous as seen in how the tar furnace outshines the inadequate street lighting visible in the background.

Of the two prize winners the most striking is a portrait of Ai Weiwei holding a stray kitten. Though his presence indicates he is the animal’s protector, viewers will wonder whether he envies the fact that the cat will have significantly more freedom than he will.

Just like the year before it, the 2012 selection is full of excellent portraits and well worth the small entrance fee.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until 17 February. Admission is £2, concessions £1.

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Tabish Khan 2

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  • c00ped

    we were confused by the lovely 2011 shot of the danish nurse in her 20s by her 42 year old son!?!!!!?