karl rudziak was a nominee for the 2009 BP portrait award
Karl Rudziak has lived in Portsmouth all his life and studied art, design and media at the University of Portsmouth.  Having grown up there, Rudziak wanted to paint a portrait that expressed the different elements of the city’s community. The local football club’s success in winning the 2008 FA Cup gave him the opportunity to paint a portrait of John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood, an ardent supporter of the team. During the sittings, Rudziak came to understand that Westwood’s tattoos and costume were not simply an attention-seeking display but a way of externalising his deep passion for Portsmouth FC and reflecting his inner self.  It was this painting, in 2009, which was selected as a finalist in the National Portrait Gallery’s annual exhibition of the BP Portrait Award, bringing Karl’s work into the spotlight.

Karl then embarked on seeking out further inspirational characters whose appearances go to extremes or in some way contradict the stereotypical views of their job titles. Karl’s painting of the anti-bullying campaigner, Scary Guy, immediately questions the judgments we make according to how a person looks.

Karl’s work is essentially about identity and despite his truly masterful brush skill, he is reluctant to be categorised as a hyperrealist. He captures an essence of the person and forces us to consider our preconceptions of image.

‘Painting is a self-imposed discipline. My work is essentially about people. Painting people is a way of connecting to my environment in a way I could never say or write down in words. I am interested in the mechanisms we use to project values onto or judge other people by using common cultural, visual markers such as clothes, haircuts, jewellery and indeed tattoos to name but a few. The subjects I paint are chosen from people I find interesting; people with a story to tell or part of a bigger project,’ Karl explains.

To see a catalogue of Karl's work, please click HERE