Art lovers have spoken for Adam Chang’s painting of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
More than 22,000 voters have selected their favourite artwork at the 2011 Archibald Portrait exhibition, and Sydney artist Adam Chang has emerged triumphant, winning the popular People’s Choice award with his portrait of the celebrated novelist J M Coetzee.
Coetzee migrated from South Africa to Australia in 2002 and became an Australian citizen in 2006. He won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature and has received the prestigious Man Booker Prize twice; in 1983 for Life & times of Michael K and in 1999 for Disgrace, the latter recently adapted into a film. He is an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide’s English department.
Coetzee and Chang met through Voiceless, a non-profit organisation dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals in Australia. Although Coetzee is famously reclusive, Chang spent an afternoon with him in Adelaide in preparation for the portrait. The Shanghai-born artist has said that he chose strong, red brushstrokes to represent Coetzee’s sensitivity to violence and discrimination as described in his oeuvre.
Chang migrated to Australia in 1997 and has twice been selected as a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Australia’s richest portraiture competition. This is the fifth time he has been selected as a finalist in the Archibald Prize.
The 2011 official Archibald Prize was awarded to Ben Quilty for his bold, impasto portrait of fellow painter Margaret Olley.