Sussex ArtBeat

Art on show in Brighton & Hove and Sussex

City Hall refuses to hang the portrait of the Mayor – because Paul Ostrer’s painting was not commissioned through official channels


Portrait of the Mayor by Paul Ostrer

17 January 2014. Councillor Denise Cobb, Mayor of Brighton and Hove, said tonight at the unveiling of her portrait (wearing official regalia), that council officials have refused to hang the painting in the town hall.
The painting was unveiled at a private view at Naked Eye Gallery, to launch an exhibition by Brighton artist Paul Ostrer. All the paintings were large self portraits of the artist reflecting elements of his life – with the exception of the portrait of the Mayor, which dominated the gallery.
The Mayor attended wearing official regalia. The private view was well attended by local media, including Brighton’s Independent Newspaper which broke the story today. The Independent published a detailed story about the council’s refusal to hang the painting alongside the official portraits of earlier Mayors. Apparently the practice of commissioning an official portrait painting of the Mayor was abandoned some decades ago, and Denise Cobb asked Ostrer to paint the portrait after visiting his home studio. The Independent quotes council officials saying that political parties and local artists needed to see transparent decision making and tendering processes.
Paul Ostrer was a professional photographer before, he said, he woke up one morning and knew he had to paint. He went to Laurence Art Supplies in Hove and asked them to help – and then taught himself to paint from photographs. He said painting offers greater opportunity for expression, especially in the eyes.


Paul Tash Ostrer at the event in front of one of his paintings.

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