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Is Fine Art graduate Gabriela Cohen Portrait Artist of the Year?


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AUB graduate and multidisciplinary artist Gabriela Cohen has made it through to the semi-finals of Sky Arts’ flagship programme Portrait Artist of the Year.

The show, which is now into its eight series, has seen a group of talented artists drawn from more than a thousand entrants, battle it out to be crowned this year’s Portrait Artist of the Year.

Hosted by Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell, competitors are tasked with painting notable celebrities each week, including actor Kelly MacDonald, naturalist Chris Packham, and ballet dancer Sergei Polunin.

Growing up in Surrey, Gabriela studied her Foundation degree at AUB and graduated from the university’s BA (Hons) Fine Art course last year. Deciding to remain living in Bournemouth after her studies, Gabriela now works as an artist at a studio space and gallery in the New Forest.

The mixed-media artist entered the show after the end of Lockdown earlier this year, filming the series in April at Battersea Arts Centre in London. Gabriela’s subject in the sixth-heat, which aired on Wednesday night, was Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who is currently the presenter of BBC programme The Sky at Night.

Gabriela said: “Being on the show was really surreal, especially since we were filming straight after the lockdown, so it was kind of my first time being around a lot of people, which made it even more surreal and special.

“The process was so fast-paced, especially after a year of COVID-19, and with all of the cameras and people, but it was really great, and it was the best way to be re-introduced to the world.

“I did have a bit of a panic at one point so I spoke to my Course Tutor Dominic, who offered some friendly tips and advice: he told me not to worry, to do my thing, and to be the best I could be – his words were just a huge relief!”

Speaking about her success, Course Tutor and Associate Professor Dominic Shepherd said: "Gabriela’s eloquent and aesthetic portraits are both cool and warm, the language of the intimate yet distant, a reflection of our post-digital age.

"To be part of Gabriela’s journey through the Fine Art BA and see her idiosyncratic yet empathetic painterly voice develop was a real pleasure."

He added: "Great to see strong painting and recognised talent in AUB alumni – big shout from all of the Fine Art Team!"

Gabriela now heads to the show’s semi-final, where she will be tasked with painting legendary musician and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. The semi-final will air on Wednesday 8 December on Sky Arts, available on Freeview Channel 11 and NOW TV.

Read more about Fine Art at AUB.

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