The 52 finalists of Australia’s almost always controversial annual Archibald Prize for portraiture have been announced. I’ve posted a few that intrigue me below – you can see who else made the cut on the Gallery of New South Wales website HERE. If you get the chance, you should most definitely check out the Archi 100: A Century of the The Archibald Prize currently touring Australia too.
I saw it at
Geelong Art Gallery in February (above) when I was dropping my daughter down to start Med School at Deakin Uni; it’s currently showing at Cairns Art Gallery.
2022 Archibald Prize Finalists
Solomon Kammer The (disabled artist) hustle oil on canvas 87.6 x 150.2 cm The subject of Solomon Kammer’s portrait, Jamila Main, is a playwright and actor as well as a disability inclusion consultant and activist who demands equal rights and access for people with disability.
Robert Malherbe Dana, head in hands oil on canvas 30.2 x 30.2 cm The subject of Robert Malherbe’s painting is Dana Rayson, an award-winning motion graphics designer and Malherbe’s wife of 30 years, who models for him on occasion. ‘I wanted a feeling of inwardness from the pose: a contained anxiety; penetrating knowledge in a pair of blue eyes. I have contrasted these quiet sensations with the gloves, painted in an intense cadmium red, which pushes Dana’s face forward and suggests a louder sound.’ Art Gallery of NSW
Claus Stangl Taika Waititi acrylic on canvas ‘I wanted to create a portrait that captured Taika’s sense of humour and to execute it in a playful cinematic style.”
Joan Ross ‘You were my biggest regret’: diary entry 1806 oil and alkyd paint on PVC with printed perspex backing 154 x 123.5 cm Joan Ross is known for her interdisciplinary practice that confronts Australia’s colonial legacy. In this portrait, she has painted herself as a colonial woman holding the stump of a tree with deep tenderness, like a lover.‘As a child seeing a tree cut down, I would imagine all the insects and spiders and birds living in them. I wondered where they would go – I envisaged them trudging along in a long line looking for a new home.’
Jonathan Dalton Day 77 oil on linen 167.8 x 213.6 cm It was Jonathan Dalton’s birthday when his wife mentioned that they had been in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic for 77 days, knowing he was born in 1977 and that the little numerical coincidence would appeal to him. ‘That same day, I saw a reflection of our family on the black TV screen – all huddled together in our little cave, safe from the outside world.
Natasha Walsh Dear Brett (the blue room) oil on copper 22.5 x 29.5 cm In this self-portrait, Natasha Walsh celebrates the inner workings of the artist’s studio, while also subverting the historically limiting place of women within this space.‘Referencing Brett Whiteley’s 1976 Archibald-winning work Self-portrait in the studio, I have repositioned the nude from the bottom left-hand corner, where she lay inert, to hold the active position of an artist painting her own nude representation through mirrors..
Yoshio Honjo Yumi Stynes as onna-musha (female samurai) natural earth pigments on handmade washi paper 97 x 66 cm Yumi Stynes is a second-generation Japanese–Australian. She is an author, broadcaster, television presenter, food fanatic, fitness enthusiast and mother of four. Her podcast Ladies, we need to talk, a focus on women’s health and social issues, airs on ABC Radio. Japanese-born, Sydney-based artist and tattooist Yoshio Honjo has depicted Stynes as an onna-musha (female samurai or warrior) to reflect her strength and influence.
Nick Stathopoulos The man in the red scarf: Wayne Tunnicliffe acrylic and oil on polycotton 91.6 x 111.8 cm
Jordan Richardson Venus oil on canvas 122.3 x 183.4 cm Jordan Richardson’s subject is writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law, whose many credits include the SBS-TV series The family Law (based on his memoir) and the play Torch the place, which premiered at Melbourne Theatre Company in 2020. Each week Law hosts the pop-culture show Stop everything on ABC Radio National.
Mostafa Azimitabar KNS088 (self-portrait) coffee and acrylic on canvas 190.5 x 191.8 cm Kurdish refugee Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar is an artist, musician, writer and human rights activist. He was born in Iran in 1986. After fleeing persecution, he arrived in Australia in 2013, seeking asylum. He was held in detention, first on Manus Island, then in a Melbourne hotel. Freed in 2021, he now lives in Sydney.
Laura Jones Brooke and Jimmy oil and acrylic on linen 198 x 152.4 cm Brooke Boney is a Gamilaroi woman from Muswellbrook, NSW, and the first Indigenous presenter in the history of Australian breakfast television.
Lewis Miller Deborah Conway oil on linen 137.5 x 122 cm
Vincent Namatjira Self-portrait with dingo acrylic on linen 136.5 x 121.5 cm A Western Aranda man, Namatjira lives in Indulkana in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia. ‘My studio workboots and the old paint buckets are a bit like me – totally out of place in this formal setting. This space is usually reserved for royalty, and if I want to take it over, I’ve got to build up my confidence, and I’m going to need some protection. I need a paintbrush – that’s my weapon – because for me, painting means pride and the power to change things. The dingo is a protector, there to guard me. The Queen’s got her corgis by her side, you know, so I’ve got my dingo … Just as long as it doesn’t pee on the carpet.’ Art Gallery of NSW
Avraham Vofsi John Safran as David and Goliath oil on linen 125.8 x 100 cm; 211.5 x 150.5 cm frame Avraham Vofsi became captivated with writer, radio presenter and documentary maker John Safran after watching Safran’s 2002 SBS-TV series Music jamboree. ‘It was John who thought it would be funny if he was both David and Goliath, saying, “I often think of myself as a David going up against these Goliaths, but in the end I just end up cutting off my own head.” That sums up John brilliantly: his righteous battles with hilarious, self-effacing outcomes.’ Art Gallery of NSW
Robert Hannaford Hirsute self-portrait oil on canvas 121.3 x 91.5 cm ‘This portrait was painted in a period of recovery from a recent brain injury, caused by the after-effects of cancer treatment 15 years ago. The injury was to the visual cortex – a special challenge for a painter. The experience has helped me to see the world freshly and not to take my vision for granted.’ Art Gallery of NSW
2021 marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of Australia’s oldest and most-loved portrait award, The Archibald Prize. Often controversial, The Archibald Prize continues to enthral and amuse, inspire and bemuse audiences from around Australia and overseas. It is unequivocally the most coveted art award for contemporary Australian portrait artists. Archie 100: A Century of The Archibald Prize brings together almost one hundred artworks selected from every decade of The Archibald Prize exhibition and unearths many of the fascinating stories behind them.