Ignacio Estudillo in his studio at Malaga’s Espacio Cienfuegos. :: SUR
“You can’t trust painting prizes, scholarships or anything like that. These kind of rewards do not make your work any better. Your work alone should be enough to speak for itself. Of course the money and coverage help you and encourage you to keep going. For us painters, when you are under pressure or don’t have the will to continue, these prizes do mean a lot; but they don’t mean that your work is good.”
These are the words of Ignacio Estudillo who has just been awarded one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for young artists. He expresses his gratitude for the interest, the fleeting fame and the support. But it seems like he is thinking of other things.
Estudillo could boast of being the only Spanish artist to receive the honour from London’s National Portrait Gallery. He could brag that he has received this recognition not just once, but twice. He could draw attention to the fact he has been best young artist at the BP Portrait Award this year. Yet Estudillo prefers to talk of work and painting from his studio in the centre of Malaga at Espacio Cienfuegos: the thriving collective that is at the heart of the city’s art scene and includes other up-and-coming young creators such Cristian Alcaraz, Laura Franco and Adrián Olivares.
A long journey
Estudillo (Jerez de la Frontera, 1985) has been awarded best young artist at the 25th edition of the BP Portrait Award with his painting ‘Mamá (Juana Pérez)’, a piece that took him two and half years to complete.
“I started it when I was at the Antonio Gala Foundation in Cordoba. I also painted parts in Malaga, Jerez de la Frontera and Tarragona. I wanted to commit myself to working on one canvas for a long period of time and I opted for a portrait of my mother,” says Estudillo, whose completed work will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London until 21 September and will then travel to other museums.
The award comes with a monetary prize of 7,000 pounds (8,800 euros) as well as the opportunity of exhibiting his work at one of world’s most prestigious cultural institutions.
However, Estudillo is curbing his enthusiasm and the plain truth helps him do this. “I have had loads of calls and messages, but up until now nothing that has helped me professionally,” he said.
When asked what was the most difficult part of creating the winning panting, Estudillo thinks for a couple of seconds and says: “The most complicated part was making the painting come alive.”
More than 2,300 artists from 71 countries submitted works for the most recent BP Award at the National Portrait Gallery. Estudillo won the prize for those aged between 18 and 30.
As well as thinking about what he has achieved, the painter is looking towards the future: on his immanent move to the Costa Brava where he will continue painting, on a fleeting visit back to Jerez, on a street decoration project in the Lagunillas neighborhood of Malaga, on Ireland, maybe the United States or wherever new horizons and new paintings wait for him.