A painting of Matt Moran in a controversial setting and pose has been pronounced the favourite of Art Gallery NSW staff.

Melbourne-based artist Vincent Fantauzzo was today announced as winner of the 2011 Archibald Packing Room Prize for his bold portrait of celebrity chef Matt Moran. The prize is adjudicated by staff at the Art Gallery of NSW during the week all the submissions arrive, with gallery storeman Steve Peters presiding over 51 per cent of the vote.

Fantauzzo, 33, holds a Masters of Fine Arts from RMIT and specialises in portraiture. He is known to followers of the Archibald for his People’s Choice-winning paintings of the late Heath Ledger (2008) and Brandon Walters (2009), the young indigenous actor who played Nullah in Baz Luhrmann’s film Australia.

It’s no wonder his 2011 entry stood out in the gallery packing room. The portrait of Moran, the part-owner of the ARIA restaurant whose face will be familiar to viewers of MasterChefand The Chopping Block, will raise eyebrows throughout the exhibition: Moran is strikingly posed in a meat locker brandishing a knife and preparing prime cuts from a carcass. “It’s a bit intense, I suppose, if you’re a vegetarian”, admits Fantauzzo, who...

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