51 artworks have been shortlisted out of a record-breaking 919 entries for Australia’s most prestigious portraiture competition, the 2019 Archibald Prize. The annual accolade celebrates paintings of notable figures that reflect Australian culture across areas including art, media, entertainment, politics, sports and more.
First established in 1921, the Prize takes its namesake from the founding editor of The Bulletin magazine (an Australian politics and business periodical that remained in circulation for 128 years!), Jules Francois Archibald, who was a passionate supporter of Australian journalism and the arts.
The subjects of this year’s shortlisted paintings include Afghan-born Australian lawyer and writer Mariam Veiszadeh by Angus McDonald with a breathtaking modern take of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring; a wonderfully playful multi-limbed self-portrait by Sydney-based artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran; a simultaneously soft and strong portrayal of beloved author, journalist and LGBTQI activist Benjamin Law by Keith Burt; and a hyper-realistic depiction of respected elder of the Warakurna community and Ngaanyatjarra people of Western Australia, Daisy Tjuparntarri Ward, by David Darcy.
28-year old Western Australian artist Tessa MacKay has taken out the 2019 Archibald Packing Room Prize for her captivating portrait of actor David Wenham, who sits in the window of a cafe, contemplating the world beyond.
Following tradition, the Art Gallery of New South Wales head packer Brett Cuthbertson and his packing room team awarded the prize. ‘I love the reflection of the glass and that David’s in a reflective mood too. We blokes have a lot to think about these days!’, Cuthbertson said!
‘Sydney had to be part of David’s portrait, but I wanted to nestle David within a figurative essence of Sydney,’ Tessa said, ‘Painting the streetscape reflections merging into the cafe interior meant that I could depict Sydney in a more interesting and playful way and it gave me the space to capture a multi-layered and complex urban world.’
Archibald finalists along with shortlisted works for the Wynne and Sulman prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from May 11th – September 8th, and winners will be announced on Friday, May 10th. Stay tuned!