Portrait of 'relaxed' Oscar Pistorius without running blades goes on show in new exhibition

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A portrait of Oscar Pistorius is among 200 paintings to go on show at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London this week.

The portrait, painted by Natalie Holland, shows the paralympian in a relaxed pose with his blades taken off sitting on a sofa.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see more of the portraits on display

It is thought to be the first time a portrait of Pistorius has gone on display in the UK since the athlete was arrested on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February.

The portrait, painted before the incident, is one of three portraits Holland has painted of the athlete.

Holland originally painted Pistorius on the track in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games, but during one of the sittings witnessed the paralympian with his blades taken off and decided to paint the athlete again.

“Here we see Oscar in a moment of calm, the veils removed, the performance, for a moment, on hold,” she said. “Articulate, ambitious, excited and full of hope, he was such an inspiring person I felt impelled to catch this simple moment with an additional portrait.”

Holland began painting a third portrait of Pistorius holding his Olympic medal in December 2012, but it remains unfinished. "When I heard the terrible news, I realised I suddenly had a whole different story on my hands, and for that reason I couldn't bring myself to finish the painting the way it was intended," she said.

"It will remain unfinished, thus coming to an unexpected and abrupt end- just like the real-life story."

Speaking about the decision to exhibit the work, president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Alastair Adams said: “It is a good painting and ultimately the reason we exhibit work is because it’s decent. The portrait provides a talking point and raises awareness; I don’t think it falls either side of the fence.

“We would still exhibit the portrait if Pistorius was found to be guilty as it adds poignancy to the painting. That’s what makes portraits special, they unwind throughout time and become their own as the years roll by, allowing the viewers to reflect on the painting in a slightly different way.”

Pistorius is one of several high profile figures to be featured in the exhibition, which includes portraits of Tony Benn, Alan Bennett, Queen Elizabeth II, Ian Rankin and Patricia Hodge.

Click here to see the portraits of more high-profile figures

The annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters runs at the Mall Galleries from 9-24 May; entry £3, concessions £2.50.

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