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Self-Portrait by Secil Guven has been selected for the Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018

Updated: Mar 23

Moving from my home country Turkey, which I feel is a land heavily steeped in a strong collectivist culture, to a new western culture has been a breath of new life for me and my spirit. At my new destination, I experience a greater emphasis on the individual and their freedom.

For me this new cultural environment, together with its natural landscape, has provided a new dimension to my feelings and mode of personal experience; in particular, enabling me to freely experience my own identity more intensely and at greater depths. The sceneries of the forest floors, after a strong storm has passed, clothed in scattered twigs and fallen autumn leaves, have made a deep and lasting impression on me. Certainly, one which connects me very naturally to my own being.

I believe that a being does not exist solely through its material-body but is born into existence when it starts to express feelings. My first encounter with such scenery was, I feel, the moment I was born. It was at that very moment that I felt the need to paint my self portrait. However, halfway through the painting, I began to feel and realise that this person was not about my own being anymore. It was instead becoming a vehicle for provoking the feelings of everyone.

When I started painting on such a large canvas, I was not well accustomed to oil colour techniques.The painting transcended its meaning as it interacted with me and taught me a great deal in time.Due to unforeseen circumstances, I needed to relocate sporadically a few times over the year on which I worked on my self portrait, this imposed unfortunate breaks but a strong desire always drove me back to Amsterdam to resume work and finalise the self portrait. I am pleased to be selected for this years’ BP Award Exhibition and being exhibiting with other selected artists. One judge noted that she was overwhelmed by the huge number of nude woman paintings entered for show but this one succeeded in being the only one to make the final selection. My self portrait has presumably been selected due to the fact that since I started working on it, I loaded everyday not only colours on canvas, but also my vigour against the overbearing part of life. It became a chunk of obscure energy that was gathered day by day as an incessant drizzle that eventually caused a flood. I am happy the flood was transmitted to the jury by means of a few images and as a consequence the painting passed the first selection. It might be erroneously referred to nudity, however the depiction of the clothless figures in my art works springs from my background. One cannot feel the warmth of sunshine in a cloudy day. In this sense the so-called grey weather of the Netherlands was very clear to me as conveying freedom into my pores that evoked to latitude of self-awareness. The inspiration behind is the raw expression of Séraphine Louis, the words of ''At such moments, when I know I am working with an international society opposed to war, I am filled with a warm sense of contentment.'' by Käthe Kollwitz and Afife Jale.

BP Award Exhibition, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2018.

The BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Thursday 14 June to Sunday 23 September 2018. Then it will be on tour Wolverhampton Art Gallery (13 October – 2 December 2018) and Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (15 Dec 2018 - 10 March 2019), Winchester Discovery Centre (March – June 2019). Get a print of Self Portrait click here


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