A young artist who considers portrait painting ‘a kind of therapy’ for both him and his sitter has won this year’s £5,000 Brian Botting Prize for an outstanding representation of the human form.
Head of Thandi, an oil painting by 25-year-old Margate-based Charlie Schaffer, impressed the judges, making Charlie the first artist to win the Botting Prize twice. He was also the prize winner in 2016, in addition to which he was awarded the competition’s Young Artist Prize in 2014
Chair of the judges Daphne Todd OBE, leading painter and judge on BBC One’s The Big Painting Challenge, praised the work. She said: “While stylistically owing a debt to Lucian Freud, Charlie has seen a great deal and observed the interplay between hot and cold colours beautifully. The emotion emanating from the subject is very arresting. The fact that her form is not completely resolved adds to the sense of a moment caught, a life and a process continuing.”
Winning artist Charlie Schaffer, who studied art at Central St Martins and the University of Brighton, said: “Apart from the cash injection, which is really important, the main thing is the appreciation and gratification. It’s great to know that the judges get what I was trying to get across. It’s essential motivation just when I needed it.”
Explaining his working process, Charlie said: “I get to hang out with another person in a specific and intense way. The painting is a by-product of the situation. It’s not the total point. It’s quite literally therapy, during which we become friends through the process of painting. I’m led by the relationship. I’m reacting to them and how much we share. If I’m open, they’re open. There are very few spaces where you can do that these days. If you go to the pub, you get distracted.”
“I’m half concentrating on the painting, half on the talking. Without talk, it’s like a still life. People are interesting because they’re people, not because of how they look.”
Charlie’s winning painting will be exhibited at the Mall Galleries from 5–17 March as part of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize exhibition. The oil painting was completed over eight sittings, which Charlie says is exceptionally quick for him.
The Brian Botting Prize is one of four prizes that form the competition. The winner of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, worth £15,000, Second Prize and the Young Artist Prize each worth £4,000 will be announced at the Mall Galleries on Monday 5 March. The People’s Prize of £2,000 will be announced on 31 March.
83 artists have been shortlisted for the Prize out of 1,144 who entered this year’s competition. In all 2,194 works of art were entered, which represents the highest level of entries in the Prize’s 13-year history.