The painter, comedian and author has taken out the $3,500 prize for his portrait of actor Jack Charles.

Painter, comedian and author Anh Do has won the 2017 Archibald Prize ANZ People’s Choice Award for his portrait of Jack Charles. The artist interviewed and painted the actor – whose recent roles have included Uncle Jimmy in the ABC TV sci-fi series Cleverman and his stage production Jack Charles v the Crown – on his popular ABC show Anh’s Brush with Fame. The portrait is a vivid depiction of the actor, whose tumultuous life story was told in the 2008 documentary Bastardy, with hidden surprises – or Easter eggs – that reveal themselves on closer inspection.

“I feel very lucky that Jack let me paint his portrait for the Archibald prize. He’s an extraordinary Australian with a great face full of character. Jack has lived a big life and I enjoyed getting to know him and painting his portrait immensely,” Do said.

Jack CharlesAnh Do’s portrait of Jack Charles. Image courtesy of Art Gallery of New South Wales.

“The first time I heard of him was in a newspaper article,” Do said in his notes on the painting. “It introduced him as ‘esteemed actor, former heroin addict and jailbird, member of the stolen generation, gay man and latter-day Indigenous activist’. Jack has shared with me heartbreaking stories of a life filled with sadness and loss, never with self-pity but with humour and grace. In the end, Jack triumphed, becoming a role model and much-loved community leader.”

“I am extremely chuffed to be counted as one of Anh Do’s mates, and of his extraordinary portrait of moi. It was a hoot sitting for this legend in his sexy little Sydney studio,” Charles said. “I count him as one of the best extractors of information – from his engaging smile, wit, genuine interest and listening to the dribs and drabs of my story, my reason for living. I’m blessed thrice over.”

The Archibald Prize People’s Choice, which was first awarded in 1988, carries a cash prize of $3,500 and was voted on by more than 15,000 members of the public who visited the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales before October 2. One such voter, Michael Harris, was chosen at random for the People’s Choice voters’ prize, winning a $2,000 cash prize from presenting partner ANZ.

This isn’t the first time Do has met with success in the Archibald Prize – he was a finalist in 2014 for his portrait of his father, Tam Do.

“Do’s striking portrait of Jack Charles has clearly moved visitors at this year’s Archibald exhibition,” said AGNSW Director Michael Brand. “It is fantastic to celebrate this vibrant collaboration between two of Australia’s most talented creatives.”


The finalists in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from July 29 until October 22, after which the Archibald finalists will tour until October 2018.