Sydney-based New Zealand artist Claus Stangl has won one of Australia’s highest artistic honors with his portrayal of Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi.
On Thursday, Stangl was announced as the winner of the Packing Room Prize, a sub-category of the Archibald Prize, Australia’s top prize for portraiture.
The gong of the packing room is decided by the staff of the Art Gallery of New South Wales who receive, unpack and hang the portraits for the annual exhibition.
“I really couldn’t believe it when he said I could do it and I could paint it,” Stangl said of Waititi.
“He’s a guy who is completely comfortable in front of the camera, as well as behind the lens.”
Chief Packer Brett Cuthbertson, who has the casting vote for the Packing Room award, said this year will be his last on the judging panel. He will retire after 41 years with the Art Gallery of NSW.
“In this world full of war and Covid, [it] is sometimes quite miserable. This guy has a vision and a twisted sense of humor that we all need right now,” Cuthbertson said.
The Packing Room award is worth $1,500, but Stangl also remains in the running for the Archibald Prize — the nation’s oldest art prize — and the People’s Choice Award.
The Archibald Prize, awarded by a jury, is worth $100,000. The public prize, awarded by visitors to the exhibition, is worth $5,000. No artist has won all three awards in the same year.
Nominations for the Archibald Prize must have been painted within the past year from at least one live session with the artist.
The $50,000 Wynne Prize will go to the best Australian landscape painting or figurative sculpture, while the $40,000 Sulman Prize will go to the best subject painting, genre painting or oil mural , acrylic, watercolor or mixed media.
This year, over 1,900 entries were received for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.
The other winners will be announced on May 13.