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Myth vies with gritty social realism on portrait shortlist

The depiction of an anonymous Belfast drug addict has made the shortlist of this year's BP Portrait Award, to go on display at London's National Portrait Gallery.

Ian Cumberland's Just to Feel Normal, depicting a friend of the painter, shows "what can happen if your situation in life deteriorates", according to the artist, who is based in Co Down.

"He doesn't do a lot, he is lost," said Cumberland, who preferred not to name his subject.

Also on the shortlist is Manchester artist Louis Smith's portrait of a naked model, Holly, handcuffed to a rock, which the artist describes as a "re-imagining of the Prometheus [myth] in female form". Prometheus was chained to a rock by Zeus as punishment for stealing fire from the gods.

Completing the shortlist is Sertan Sultan's Mrs Cerna, of a girl brandishing a knife, and Wim Heldens' Distracted, showing a 25-year-old philosophy student leaning against a wall.