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Bold Portraits, Not Bald Portraits
The annual Archibalds are on again at the Art Gallery of NSW, with a wide range of portraits to delight and challenge the visitor.
The Archibald Prize is one of the oldest and most prestigious art awards that exists in Australia. The criterion for entry is "a portrait preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia", and is open to anyone resident in Australia or New Zealand, with the winner walking away with the top prize of $100,000.
Winner of the Archibald Prize 2018, Yvette Coppersmith: Self Portrait after George Lambert, from the Art Gallery of NSW website
Yvette Coppersmith giving her acceptance speech on winning the Archibalds in 2018 at the Art Gallery of NSW. 11 May 2018.
The "Archie" is the Art Gallery of NSW's most popular annual exhibition, attracting 146,000 visitors last year. 57 'Archie' finalists were selected to go on display to the public this year, and include subjects such as Guy Pearce, Gladys Berejiklian, and Jimmy Barnes, to name a few, but also many subjects who are less famous but have fascinating stories and life experiences behind them. Reading the description that goes with each portrait is one of the most interesting parts of seeing an exhibition like this.
Guy by Anne Middleton, Archibalds 2018, from the Art Gallery of NSW website
Considering the range of styles, sizes and subject matters among the 57 entries, the exhibition is beautifully curated and well worth a visit.
The exhibition also includes the finalists for the Wynne Prize, awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, and the finalists for the Suleman Prize, awarded for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist.
Also on display are the Young Archie finalists, the quality of which was both delightful and astounding in its indication of the young talent we have in Australia. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Thompson's portrait of her mother sitting on a beach on a wild and windy day, with the dark stormy blue sky mirrored by her troubled blue eyes, was a standout for me.
Jessica Thompson, aged 15, 'Clare', from the Art Gallery of NSW website
The $20 entry fee gives you a veritable feast of art to gorge on. If you haven't experienced the Archies yet, I'd recommend this as an excellent way to quench any cultural thirst you might have. More people than ever are discovering the richness and diversity of artistic talent we have in Australia. This exhibition is a great way to sample a slice of it.