The BP Portrait Award 2013 is currently on view at the National Portrait Gallery, with works by over fifty artists on display. And despite our best efforts and the obviously impressive range of skills on view, we were at a loss to pick a favorite; one work that would leap out from the walls to grab our attention and demand a ‘like’.
After spending several long minutes looking at his paintings, peering up close to stare at details of doe-eyes and count the number of mobile phones within a frame, we were finally satisfied that we had found ‘it’.
With art degrees achieved in both London and Tokyo, and with numerous awards under his belt, Randall used the £5,000 prize of the BP Travel Award 2012 to travel along the ancient Tōkaidō highway between Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan. In doing this he traced the footsteps of the famous Japanese woodblock print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), who traveled that very route in 1832 to create a series of ukiyo-e woodcut prints called the The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō. While this area has undergone many obvious changes from then to now, what does impress us in Randall’s depictions of modern-day Japanese life is that the urban and rural co-exist neck-to-neck but without any discomfort or condescension.
His series is called ‘In the foosteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan‘ and fifteen of the works are on display at the Award exhibition.
Here’s a short video that follows Randall through Tokyo as he makes his sketches.