Two African Photographers Have Been Shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023

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The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled its highly anticipated shortlist for the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023, featuring a remarkable array of artists whose photographic narratives transcend the ordinary. With the winner set to be announced on November 6th, this year’s competition promises to be a captivating journey through the lens of diverse creators. Among the shortlisted photographers, two individuals of African descent, Serena Brown and Carl Francois van der Linde, stand out, offering a unique perspective that enriches the creative landscape of contemporary photography.

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me nana fie by Serena Brown for me nana fie

Serena Brown, a British-Ghanaian photographer, has long been celebrated for her ability to encapsulate the essence of working-class youth in the UK. Her shortlisted photograph, “me nana fie,” tenderly captures her younger sister’s maiden visit to their grandmother’s ancestral home in Accra, Ghana. The image resonates with a profound sense of belonging and homecoming, eloquently conveying the emotions tied to reconnecting with cultural heritage.

Joining Brown on the shortlist is Carl Francois van der Linde, an accomplished South African artist whose work captures the captivating world of professional wrestling in India. His shortlisted photograph, “Chotu Lal Upside-down,” extracted from the series “Our Leader,” provides a surreal glimpse into the realm of Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE). The image vividly captures the grit, determination, and idiosyncratic strategies employed by wrestlers in carving out a unique personal identity within the entertainment industry.

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Chotu Lal Upside-down by Carl Francois van der Linde from the series Our Leader
© Carl Francois van der Linde

Further enriching the competition’s diversity are the other esteemed shortlisted photographers:

  • Jake Green: A London-based documentary photographer renowned for his ability to capture candid moments that reveal profound human connections. His shortlisted work, “Shaun Ryder,” depicts the iconic lead singer of the Happy Mondays obscured by a vapour cloud. This image is a part of a commissioned series documenting influential figures in the 1980s music scene.
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Shaun Ryder by Jake Green
© Jake Green
  • Alexandre Silberman: A director and photographer based in Paris, Silberman’s work delves into the symbiotic relationship between humanity and the natural world. His shortlisted photograph, “Diena,” taken at La Courneuve Park, Paris, captures the subject in a contemplative pose, surrounded by patterns that blur the line between nature and human intervention.
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Diena by Alexandre Silberman from the series NATURE
© Alexandre Silberman
  • Gilleam Trapenberg: A Dutch photographer hailing from the Caribbean island of Curaçao, Trapenberg’s work challenges stereotypes and explores the multifaceted realities of Caribbean life. His shortlisted photograph, “Kisha and LaDarayon, 2023,” portrays a tender moment between a mother and son on the island of Saint Martin, offering a nuanced perspective of Caribbean family life.
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Photo: Gilleam Trapenberg

Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, expressed his enthusiasm for this year’s shortlist, highlighting the exceptional quality and diversity of submissions. Cullinan stated, “The Photo Portrait Prize is always an opportunity to showcase new and exciting photography talent, and we are delighted to be welcoming the exhibition back to the newly renovated gallery.”

Shane Gleghorn, Managing Partner of Taylor Wessing, echoed these sentiments, praising the Prize’s ability to attract exceptional artists from around the world, further solidifying its international reputation.

The Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023 exhibition will provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to explore the intricate narratives woven by these talented photographers. Alongside the shortlisted works, the exhibition will also feature portraits by the In Focus Photographer, Hassan Hajjaj. The exhibition will be open to the public at the National Portrait Gallery from November 9th, 2023, to February 25th, 2024. As the anticipation for the winner’s announcement builds, the National Portrait Gallery stands ready to host an exhibition that not only celebrates exceptional portraiture but also serves as a window into diverse stories and perspectives.

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