Archibald Prize

I had a wonderful afternoon at the Art Gallery of NSW, taking in the paintings in this year’s Archibald, Wynne, Sulman and Photography Prizes.

The piece which won, by Marcus Wills, The Paul Juraszek monolith (after Marcus Gheeraerts) was a truly spectacular work. With shades of Japanese anime (Howl’s Castle) and Escher, the painting could be viewed on many levels. The sheer spectacular size of the work, along with the wonderfully intricate detail, could provide hours of entertainment.

Other favourites included Kathleen Vafiadis painting of Julia Gillard (with its wonderful red colouring) and Ben Quilty’s paintings of Ben Cullen (both before and after a night on the booze).

One of the interesting things I noted with curiousity, as I walked around, was the tendancy for many people to look very closely at the works. The sheer size of so many of these works demanded viewing from at least 10-15 feet away, and yet so many people were more interested in a close observation of the brush stroke.

I whizzed through the landscapes, as I’m not generally a fan, on my way further downstairs to see this year’s Photographic Portrait Prize. In my view, “The magnanimous beige wrap – part 1 (contraption)” by Vanila Netto won the prize by a country mile. Featuring a friend of the artist’s husband wrapped in a cardboard/material like wrap from head to toe, it was more in the style of modern art photography, epitomised by Tracey Moffagtt, than in the style of photo-journalism.

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