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Bathurst-based painter Tim Storrier has won the 91st Archibald Prize for portraiture, the Art Gallery of NSW announced today.
At today's prize presentation in the gallery, the 63-year-old accepted the award accompanied by his dog Smudge (also depicted on canvas), whom he describes as "the critic and guide of the whole enterprise".
Claiming the Archibald, Storrier joked, would make him "the most unpopular artist in the country – with other artists," especially given the winnings rose from $50,000 to $75,000 this year.
The Histrionic Wayfarer (after Bosch), one of 41 finalists and 839 submissions, is modelled on a 1510 painting by Hieronymus Bosch. Storrier's tongue-in-cheek, surrealistic twist depicts an intrepid painter on a "journey through the landscape of the artist’s mind."
Although the figure in the self-portrait at first appears to have no face (think H G Wells' The Invisible Man), Storrier has in fact included his visage on a faint sketch blowing in the wind behind the artist.
It is a significant departure in tone from last year's winner, Ben Quilty's touching tribute to his mentor and fellow Australian artist Margaret Olley, who passed away just months after he painted her.
The Archibald Prize runs at the Art Gallery of NSW until June 3 before touring regionally. This year's crop is a rarity in the history of the prize, completely devoid of politicians as subjects. The People's Choice winner will be announced by popular vote during the exhibition's Sydney run.