Paintings by Nigel Milsom, Natasha Bieniek and Jason Phu awarded the 2015 Prizes.
Newcastle artist Nigel Milsom has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Archibald Prize ($100,000) for his portrait of Charles Waterstreet, a barrister whom the artist has previously employed but has known since birth. Titled Judo house pt 6 (the white bird), Waterstreet is depicted as a gaunt, decrepit figure, with almost-geometrically angular facial features, gazing downwards and out of the frame. While the top of the work’s backdrop places its figure in front of a set of dark grey drapes, the Renaissance technique of chiaroscuro is used to full effect in the lower quadrants, with the muted tones of the angular and elongated fingers strongly contrasted against a consuming darkness.
Judo house pt 6 (the white bird) by Charles Waterstreet
Also presented yesterday were the winners of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Wynne ($50,000) and Sulman ($40,000) Prizes. For the “best landscape painting of Australian scenery,” Accademia d’Arte-trained Melbourne-based artist Natasha Bieniek was named the winner. Her work, Biophilia, which measures in at only 81-sqaure centimetres (this year’s smallest entry), is a vividly detailed miniature of a Melbourne public garden.
Natasha Bieniek’s Biophilia
Jason Phu has won the Sulman Prize, awarded to “the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media”. His work, I was at yum cha when in rolled the three severed heads of Buddha: Fear, Malice and Death, is described by 2015 Sulman Prize judge Lindy Lee as having “a genuine humour which comes from a very deep place ‒ telling a story of transitions between one culture to another.”
Jason Phu’s winning artwork
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes run from July 18-September 27 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.