Academic in the running for illustrious art award

Academic in the running for illustrious art award

The Uncertain Time by John Devane

University news

Monday 22 April 2013

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An academic from Coventry University’s School of Art and Design is up for an illustrious award after his painting was selected for a top exhibition in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

John Devane, head of the University’s Department of Design and Visual Arts, has been shortlisted for the 2013 BP Portrait Award and will have his oil painting, ‘The Uncertain Time’ – which depicts his three children Lucy (25), Laura (20) and Louis (15) – exhibited in the gallery from June 20th to September 15th.

It will be the second time Mr Devane’s work has featured in the National Portrait Gallery; his painting entitled ‘In the House of The Cellist’ was selected for an exhibition there in 1995.

Painted over three years, ‘The Uncertain Time’ sets out to show how children emerge from childhood and begin to assert their independence, revealing something of their adult selves. Mr Devane cites his key points of reference as the works of Courbet, Chardin, Degas, Balthus and Samuel Beckett.

The BP Portrait Award, described as the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world, is in its 34th year at the National Portrait Gallery and has a cash prize of £30,000 for the winner.

In 2012 over 2,100 artists from 75 countries submitted their work for the competition, and the exhibition – which featured 55 paintings – was seen by a quarter of a million people.

Mr Devane said:

I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity to show work for a second time in the National Portrait Gallery, and to have been shortlisted for this award.

Speaking of the painting itself, he remarked:

The composition suggests an almost stage-like shallow space constructed in two zones, with the three figures presented as if they are awaiting some kind of event.

The exhibition will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from June 20th to September 15th 2013, and will go on tour later in the year where it will be shown at the Aberdeen Art Gallery (November 2nd 2013 – February 1st 2014) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (March 3rd – June 14th 2014).

For further information, please contact Alex Roache, external press and media relations officer, Coventry University, on +44 (0)24 7679 5050 or email