Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moran Prize at the State Library - 5 May

When I said it was art prize season I really meant it. Based on (a) proximity to my office and (b) it being free, it was only natural that I would venture across the road to check this one out. The Doug Moran prize is a bit of an enigma to me. Sure the Moran's offer $150,000 to the winner, making this the richest art prize in Aus, but do they get the best entries? Let's see ...

The winner this year (as judged by last years winner Michael Zavros and Louise Doyle of the National Portrait Gallery) was Vincent Fantauzzo with a portrait of Baz Luhrman. I agreed with one of the punters who loudly commented that his packers prize winning archibald entry was better. Ditto for Deidre But-Husaim although this was a closer thing - she even had exactly the same person (Roy Ananda on a chin support) as her archibald entry. Adam Cullen also had a recognizable work in each, his Michael Reid portrait gracing the Moran. Robert Hannaford's Gallipoli entry was also better than his Moran. This show really didn't grab me and the fact the Morans can't get this hung at a more salubrious venue (no offence to the State Library but to get to this show you need to walk through a carved tree exhibit and the whole show is hung a little shoddily) asks a lot of questions about the whole endeavour. Even more confusing they have a photo exhibition next door. Is photography art? Why not make it one united competition? If I were Doug Moran I would probably save my shekels on all the comps and just build my own White Rabbit. Or at the very least get Richard Bell to be the judge next year!

Points - 3 to Shane Bowden and Dean Reilly for their portrait of Max Markson, if I had to get a portrait done out of the contestants here they would've got the nod. 2 to Justin Cooper, I'm not sure I loved it but I think I prefer to be challenged rather than bored. 1 point to self taught Canberra artist Ross Townsend for his portrait of Laurie Daley. He has won a couple of ribbons at the Canberra Show and that is good enough for me. Although he could've done a much more interesting portrait of Laurie in the laneway behind the Private Bin - there is a reason it was called Laurie's Lane when I was at uni ...

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