Excitement is in the air as the digital entry dates for the 2023 Portrait Award competition inch closer. Since its inauguration in 2013 this biennial competition, hosted by Rust-en-Vrede Gallery in Durbanville, has seen five talented artists walk away with the proverbial crown: Helen Gourlay-Conyngham (2013), John Pace (2015), Kate Arthur (2017), Craig Cameron-Mackintosh (2019) and Felicity Bell (2021). This year your name could be added to the winner’s circle…

As always, the judging process is anonymous, leveling the playing field by allowing artworks to speak for themselves throughout the adjudication process. A new set of judges take up the challenge of selecting the Top 100 portraits each year, one of whom (except for 2021 – due to traveling restrictions) is associated with the BP Portrait Award competition. This year that judge is celebrated British artist and former Stellenbosch University lecturer Paul Emsley, who was the 2007 winner of the BP portrait Award. Paul will be joined on the adjudication panel by Prof. Elizabeth Gunter, associate professor at Stellenbosch University. As an artist, Elizabeth has had several solo exhibitions, participated in numerous group exhibitions and her work is represented in private, corporate, and public collections both in South Africa and abroad. The third judge will be announced shortly.

This year’s winning portrait will once again secure its creator R 150 000, as well as the opportunity to present a solo exhibition at Rust-en-Vrede Gallery in the following Portrait Award year in 2025. A second prize of R 30 000 and a third prize of R 20 000 are also up for grabs. This year also sees the addition of the Ryno Swart Drawing Medal which will be awarded to the best portrait done in a drawing medium as selected by the judges. Besides the monetary prizes, the gallery secured some more enticing rewards. The CO-Art and Blue Cactus Artist Residency have once again come on board to offer a residency in the beautiful Spanish countryside, whilst The Italian Art Shop and Pen Café Durbanville will be offering desirable art hampers. Andrew James, current member and previous vice chair of the UK’s Royal Society of Portrait Painters also agreed to give his time and expertise in the form of zoom tutoring sessions.

Portraiture as a genre has evolved to the point where everyone’s idea of what a portrait entails differs, creating an opportunity to explore and interpret this genre in a multitude of ways within the contemporary art narrative.

Monetary prizes and the Ryno Swart Drawing award aside, the competition offers both up-and-coming and established artists a myriad of opportunities for exposure. The top 100 artworks form part of the PORTRAIT 100 and Top 40 exhibitions displayed at Rust-en-Vrede and the PORTRAIT 100 host gallery for a minimum period of a month. From the overall 100 selected, the winners of the residency, the art hampers and tutoring sessions are drawn at the opening. The Top 40 artworks are included in a highly collectable colour catalogue which will be released at the Gala evening and available on sale at the gallery.

Countless artists from the entire entry pool have been given the opportunity to exhibit at Rust-en-Vrede over the years, which just goes to show that you do not necessarily have to win the top prize to make a meaningful impact on your art career. To quote an old cliché – “You have to be in it to win it” and with the Portrait Award, winning comes in various shapes and forms.
Enter! You never know, even if you do not win first prize, it might just change your life.

Digital entries open on 1 June 2023 and close on 10 June 2023 at midnight.
Rules and Regulations and How to Enter: https://rust-en-vrede.com/portrait-award/
• Please note that the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery has a new telephone nr 068 457 8589 and a new e-mail address: gallery@rust-en-vrede.com
• Office Hours: Mon – Fri from 10h00 – 16h00 and Sat from 9h00 – 13h00



2013 Top 40 Finalist Susan Grundlingh – Myself with My Favourite Plants – Acrylic on Canvas



2021 Top 100 Finalist – Sebastiaan Theart – Ruzanda (Sebastiaans Mother) – Oil on Canvas



2021 Top 100 Top 100 Finalist – Joubert Stander – After Work – Oil on Canvas


2017 Top 100 Finalist – Kaross Collective – Embroider 420 Maria Mhlongo – Embroidery and Mixed Media on Canvas


2021 Top 40 finalist – Corne Eksteen – Encryption V – Oil on Canvas




2017 Top 40 Finalist Themba Mkhangeli – Serenity – Ballpoint Pen on Paper


2015 Top 5 Finalist – Marie Breedt – Pierre-Jean and His Children – Oil on Board


2017 Top 100 Finalist – Anina Deetlefs – Skin – Oil on Canvas



2017 Top 40 Finalist – Jacques Andre du Toit – The Pledge – Acrylic on Canvas



2017 Top 40 Finalist Ian Grose – Antonia, Richard and Daniel Lucas _Oil on Paper


2015 Top 40 Finalist – Heidi Fourie – Studio Supervisor Sleeping – Oil on Canvas



2013 Top 40 Finalist – Richard Mudariki – Mukwirikwiri(Foreigner) – Acrylic on Canvas

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