The 100th Archibald Prize Goes to Peter Wegner
By Gabrielle Tse
On June 4, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) named Melbourne-based artist Peter Wegner the recipient of the 100th Archibald Prize. Wegner’s winning painting depicts 100-year-old artist and previous Archibald Prize laureate Guy Warren. As part of the prestigious portrait award, Wegner will receive a cash prize of AUD 100,000 (USD 76,600).
Titled Portrait of Guy Warren at 100 (2021), Wegner’s oil-on-canvas work features a smiling Warren seated against a dark background. Warren’s vivid pink sweater, echoed by rosy hues in his face and shirt, hints at his spirited personality. The painting is part of Wegner’s ongoing portrait series of centenarians. “I chose to paint Guy Warren because he is one of the most incredible centenarians l have ever met. This portrait honours Guy in the 101st year of his productive and meaningful life,” said Wegner. As a figurative painter, sculptor, and draughtsman, Wegner’s works are housed in public institutions, including the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. He is a six-time Archibald Prize finalist, a four-time Dobell Prize for Drawing finalist, and the winner of the Doug Moran Prize 2006.
For the first time in history, the Archibald Prize also highly commended works by two other painters, namely Jude Rae, for her self-portrait Inside Out (2020); and Pat Hoffie, for Visaya in a c-collar (2020), of the artist’s daughter.
Additionally, the AGNSW revealed the winners of the annual Wynne and Sulman Prizes. Worth AUD 50,000 (USD 38,300), the Wynne Prize, dedicated to landscape art, went to Yolŋu painter Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu for her painting of the Seven Sisters constellation, Garak – night sky (2021). First-time finalist Georgia Spain clinched the AUD 40,000 (USD 30,600) Sulman Prize, which recognizes the best subject painting, genre painting, or mural project. Her acrylic-on-canvas work Getting down or falling up (2021) explores movement and physical tension.
Open to Wynne Prize finalists, the Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize, comprising a cash award of AUD 10,000 (USD 7,700), was taken by Tjungkara Ken of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in South Australia, for her abstract acrylic-on-linen Seven Sisters (2021). Noel McKenna received the Trustees’ Watercolour Prize of AUD 5,000 (USD 3,800) for her pink-and-purple work South Coast headland (2), Ottoman rose (2021). Finally, honoring the best female watercolorist, the John & Elizabeth Newnham Pring Memorial Prize was given to Leah Bullen for Arid garden, Wollongong (2021), which illustrates plants in the Wollongong Botanic Garden. Bullen will receive AUD 1,000 (USD 770).
All finalists of the 2021 Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes will present their competition pieces at the AGNSW from June 5 to September 26. Works by finalists of the 2021 Archibald Prize will also tour across New South Wales and Victoria, starting October 8.
Gabrielle Tse is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.
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