“The winner this year is Phillip Harris, for his hyper-realist image of two figures, male and female, nude and grunge respectively, lying on the bed of a stream. But the strength of the competition is to be measured by the immediate runner-up, a ¾ length self portrait in a football jacket by Christopher Prewett, an artist who has been in the offing for the award a number of times, and could well have won this year with this, the most confident and painterly image of the show. The professionalism of the entry throughout is remarkable; this is a competition that artists themselves treat with an increasing seriousness with every year it continues.”

William Packer, Financial Times. The BP Portrait Award.

“Many contemporary artists have attempted to create works that relate to a total environment in a way that is specific to that environment and that is accessible to it’s inhabitants. For example Cornelia Parker covered the whole exterior of a Scottish schoolhouse with patterns drawn in blackboard chalk and Charlie Hooker directed a ‘happening” that involved thousands of cyclists.

As director of a Fine Art course in a London Art school I became used to meditating on the relevance and relative success of works of this kind, and I suppose these concerns have never really left me but have lain dormant during the five years of my retirement.

When I entered Catus recently and, map in hand, followed Christopher Prewett”s work from shop to shop I was surprised by what seemed to me to be a total solution. It had arisen quite naturally from Prewett’s involvement with the people and the place: he has painted the local people in their own environment and has been allowed to exhibit his portraits in the very places in which they work. This project required the direct cooperation of the whole community since the individual sitters had to be prepared to pose and work almost simultaneously, and their customers had to be prepared to overlook- or enjoy- the presence of an artist on the premises. It is good to be able to report that several of the sitters have bought their own portraits which will hang proudly in their shops for ever, thus transforming a temporary event into a permanent installation.

Christopher Prewett is a formidable draughtsman and his likenesses are exact and uncompromising. His colour is strong enough to carry across a town square but harmonious enough to ensure pictorial unity and in this way traditional skills have been bought to bear on a strictly contemporary problem.

Another way in which Prewett’s work has an unexpected post-modernist flavour is his use of pictorial references- ‘influences’ is not the right word here- for instance his portrait of Dr Barthelemy makes direct contact with Van Gogh’s portrait of Dr Gachet. Dr Gachet was an intelligent and compassionate man who cared for Van Gogh in his last illness and this reference enhances the meaning of Prewett’s painting. Other references are made to both Stanley Spencer and through him to the humanism of the quatrocento- and to Soutine. These two visionary artists point to the existence of something extra to normal experience that is nethertheless present within it. One of the roles of the artist is to point out this presence. Another is to serve the community within which it operates. Christopher Prewett has done both of these things.”

Francis Hoyland, exhibition catalogue ‘Cadre des Vies’.

Christopher Prewett mainly works in oils in an expressive figurative style, is fond of portraiture and landscape and likes evening light and storm effects. His free, loose brushwork is bold and textural. He also has a strong sense of contrasting colour. His set of small oils are all very striking as he here distorts the landscape shapes into angles and swirls which , with the grouping of red roofs, energise the imagery.  The ‘View of Camy’ and the much larger  ‘View of Uzech’ are especially interesting in this respect. His ink drawing studies of  a  ‘Devil’s Band’ and the large oil  ‘The Devil’s Band Arrives in a small village’, show his supreme skill with human figures in  compact  active groups.

Eric Buessnel. Alongside the Picasso print exhibition, Farnham.