The Sydney artist Del Kathryn Barton has won the Archibald prize for portraiture in 2008. Her painting titled “You are what is most beautiful about me, a self portrait with Kell and Arella” has won her $50,000 and a whole bunch of media attention as the art prize is one of the few in Australia that get any mainstream media love.
Her winning portrait depicts herself and her two children, Kell and Arella. The artist said “This painting celebrates the love I have for my two children and how my relationship with them has radically informed and indeed transformed my understanding of who I am.” She also said “Both my children have taken my world by storm and very little compares to the devotion I feel for them both. The intensity of this emotion is not something that I could have prepared myself for. The alchemy of life offered forth from my inhabitable woman’s body is perhaps the greatest gift of my life.”
It’s an interesting choice, and most of the media seem relatively happy with the winner for 2008, but I don’t think it should have won. Del Kathryn Barton has been Hot lately, with a waiting list of collectors lining up to get a piece of her and auction records of her work being broken again and again (with paintings being sold for $150,000+), but I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I think she’s a good artist, but she doesn’t seem to have broken free from the spells of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Del Kathryn Barton is currently showing at the Karen Woodbury Gallery in Richmond, Victoria.
Also at the Art Gallery of NSW, Joanne Currie Nalingu’s painting called “The River Is Calm” won the Wynne Prize, which is for landscape painting or sculptures of the figure. While the artist Rodney Pople won the Sulman Prize for “Stage Fright”.
Here’s a list of the finalists for the Archibald prize in 2008. My two picks for the top prize would be Jun Chen’s “Ian Smith” and Zhong Chen’s “Nicholas Harding” portraits.
Coxsoft art also mentioned a portrait of the late Aussie actor Heath Ledger by the artist Vincent Fantauzzo. It was a close second to take out the Archibald prize, with judges divided between the Heath Ledger portrait and the Barton self portrait.