Archibald takes victory ‘symbolic of cultural change’ | Fairfield City Champion

Winning the Archibald Prize is not only a monument for artist Blak Douglas, he believes it is also a great moment in history for Indigenous and LGBTQIA Australians.

Sydney-based heritage painter Dhungatti won the prestigious fine art prize on Friday for his portrait of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens during the Lismore floods.

He is the first NSW Koori to win the $100,000 prize, in a competition that until recently was won primarily for portrayals of white male faces.

“We broke that out of the park with this portrait,” he told AAP.

“Karla is a woman, a woman of color, and a person of same-sex preference, so it’s just this trilogy that I never expected in my wildest dreams would hang on the walls as the winner.”

Titled Moby Dickens, the portrait was unanimously chosen as the winner by the Art Gallery of NSW Trustees.

The win symbolizes a cultural shift towards greater inclusion and diversity in the commercial art world, Douglas said.

“I didn’t expect this to happen as soon as it did and so it’s a tremendous legacy not only on behalf of this institution but also others who seek to change the landscape,” said- he declared.

Mrs. Dickens’ heroic efforts during the floods in her home town of Lismore inspired the portrait.

“I happened to be there in Lismore immediately after the first deluge in January and saw the shock and horror on people’s faces,” he said.

She had reached a turning point in her own artistic career when the flood disaster happened.

“When she should normally have been excited about the direction of her career, she was hosting three families in Lismore as part of her own rescue mission,” he said.

Mr. Douglas is a five-time Archibald finalist and was also a Wynne Prize finalist in 2009.

He was among 52 finalists whose work included portraits of Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman and former politician and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett, among others.

A self-portrait of last year’s winner Peter Wegner, a seven-time Melbourne runner-up, was also up for grabs.

The judges highly commended Jude Rae for his portrayal of Dr. Saul Griffith.

This year’s $40,000 Sulman Prize for Best Subject or Genre Painting went to Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro for their work titled Raiko and Shuten-doji.

The $50,000 Wynne Prize for Australian Landscape Paintings was awarded to Nicholas Harding for Eora.

There were over 1,900 nominations for the three awards, including a record number of Indigenous artists. There were also a record number of Indigenous finalists in all three competitions.

Sydney artist Claus Stangl, who created a 3D portrait of Kiwi director Taika Waititi, won the $3,000 Packing Room Prize, a category awarded by gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the portraits.

The exhibition of the finalists opens on Saturday and will run until August 28.

Australian Associated Press

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