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Thai artist puts spotlight on Asian talent with top portrait prize

Jiab Prachakul emerges as an outsider ahead of her game

Self-taught artist Jiab Prachakul realized she wanted to pursue art after visiting an exhibition of British artist David Hockney's work in London. (Courtesy of Guillaume Bouzige)

BANGKOK -- In London's National Portrait Gallery hangs the painting "Night Talk," depicting two friends sitting at a low wooden table in a Berlin bar. The mood is tender yet awkward, the kind that exists only between intimate acquaintances.

The painting, by the Thai artist Jiab Prachakul, is the winning entry in this year's BP Portrait Award, one of the world's most prestigious art competitions, marking the first time an Asian artist has won the top prize in the award's 30-year history.

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