Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize is back for another year at the Art Gallery of NSW. Yep, we’re talking about the super-popular Archibald Prize—and the 2023 winner has just been revealed.
Running since 1921, the Archibald displays portraits of exceptional Aussies by Australian artists. And every year, crowds flock to the gallery to check out the impressive exhibition of Aussie faces (and to fiercely debate who should have taken home the top gong).
Archibald Prize 2023 Winner
This year the prize received a whopping 949 submissions, of which 57 finalists will be on display. On Friday 5 May, Sydney-based artist Julia Gutman was named the winner for her portrait, Head in the sky, feet on the ground. It's a painting of singer-songwriter Montaigne. At 29, Gutman is one of the youngest winners in the Archibald Prize's 102-year history.
"So much of my practice is devoted to revisiting, critiquing, and contending with the histories housed in institutions. It’s so affirming for that conversation to be recognised in such a public way," Gutman said of her big win.
"Montaigne and I have been friends for a few years and there is a lot of alignment in our practices; we are both interested in creating our own forms and approaches rather than strictly adhering to any one tradition," she continued. "Montaigne’s work defies genres, while her mercurial soprano has become an indelible part of the fabric of Australian music."
Archibald Packing Room Prize Winner
Each year, the Archibald also includes a "Packing Room" winner—for the best entry as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack, and hang the entries. This year, Cairns-based artist Andrea Huelin was named the winner, for her jewel-toned portrait of New Zealand-born comedian Cal Wilson.
Every year, the Archibald runs in conjunction with the renowned Wynne and Sulman Prizes—showcasing Australia’s best landscape works and subject, genre, and mural art, respectively.
Lead vocalist of Electric Fields, Zaachariaha Fielding took home the Wynne Prize this year for his painting Inma. The spellbinding piece depicts the sounds of Mimili, a small community in the eastern part of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia.
On his winning painting, Fielding said, "The work is music, and I am music. My work is a celebration and a song in itself and the sound comes from my community... The atmosphere of this work is full of sound, movement, and teaching. All of the communities are coming together, sharing their storylines."
As for the Sulman, senior Luritja artist Doris Bush Nungarray has taken the top prize for her work Mamunya ngalyananyi (Monster coming). This painting is of Mamus or "cheeky ones"—ominous and malevolent spirits that terrify Aṉangu. Nungarray is the second First Nations artist to win the Sulman Prize.
All three prizes are on display at the Art Gallery of NSW from Saturday 6 May until Sunday 3 September, so you have plenty of time to check them out. More info is here.
What: Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes 2023
When: Saturday 6 May until Sunday 3 September
Where: Art Gallery of NSW
Now, check out what else is happening in Sydney this month here.
Image credit: Julia Gutman "Head in the sky, feet on the ground", Mim Stirling; Zaachariaha Fielding "Inma"; Doris Bush Nungarrayi "Mamunya ngalyananyi (Monster coming)"