Here we are again at the AGNSW for something that I think is quite peculiar to the Australian art scene - the annual art prize blockbuster exhibition. I am sure the AGNSW publishes the stats for the punters that walk through the door. My tip for bringing the junior critics - get there early. We were there with the 3 kids at 9.55 just waiting for the doors to open and were right in line behind this years big winner Del Kathryn and her family who were trying to keep a low profile and also beat the crowds.
First up is always the Archibald. The team at Big Lamington hearts Michael Lindeman's work and this years finalist for the portrait prize is no exception (top - Dear Trustees (self portrait)). Lots of text, funny, makes you think. Glad they put it in such a prominent position too. Everyone has to notice this work - although apparently the centre room is key to winning. After reading this letter to the trustee's in full I actually really enjoyed turning around and watching the reaction of the other early bird punters. This was getting lots of good press and is my dark horse for people's choice (I did give it my 2 votes as well - doesn't everyone vote twice?). I did like the winner. Del's works are very rich in colour and imagery. My wife adores them although at this rate the waiting list must be getting longer and longer with her 2nd win. I didn't think much of the Vincent Fantauzzo work next to it. I read a great review of this show in maybe the Australian newspaper where the writer was taking to task artists that are obviously painting from photos and this work is exhibit A in that regard. I did quite like McLean Edward's entry although one review I read said it failed in capturing the sitters likeness. Oh dear.
Next was the Wynne. Imants Tillers certainly seems like the boy who can do no wrong in the trustee's eyes - going back to back here with his Namatjira. I liked Fiona Lowry's work although in my mind it was very similar to her landscape entry which made last years salon de refuses. My wife would've given the wynne to her favourite sculptor - Alex Seton - who was unlucky not to win with his great hoodie wearing marble piece called Soloist. By recent form a sculpture was due to win this year, maybe 2014 is a lock. I really liked Noel McKenna's centennial park (above). I like the naive style and the information heavy nature of the work. I also quite like centennial park!
On to the Sulman where some names keep popping up - Paul Ryan (a Big Lamington points winner last year) was again a standout for his Fine Young Cannibal, and again also for his artist statement which was one of the best of the day. I like a nice memento mori so Craig Waddell's Hungry Hollow (above) was one of my top picks here. I also liked Annette Bezor's entry of 3 portraits of Kate Moss although I thought just the middle one with the veils of colour would've sufficed. I noticed Fiona Lowry's work which gives her a finalist in each prize and must surely warrant a ribbon or somesuch from the AGNSW, hopefully something is forthcoming - top effort that. Good to see Michael Lindeman's 2nd finalist of the day and I also liked Kate Bergin's flamingo from wonderland (as did my better half). All things considered I think Victoria Reichelt's After Books a pretty worthy winner.
Points - 3 to Michael Lindeman for his archibald effort. Hey if the Trustee's can keep giving the Wynne to Imants then I can certainly keep giving the best on ground to Michael! I will give 2 points to Noel McKenna who is postively swimming in Big Lamington points after the recent MCA show. 1 point will go to Craig Waddell for