The annual art event that captivates Australia returns this week for its 103rd year, with the winners in each category being announced on Friday 14th May. Some of the Yakkazoo team were lucky enough to catch a sneak preview last week before the exhibition opens to the public. Light on politicians, but full of political statements and with many adored familiar faces, here is our take on the best of the bunch:
Archibald Prize 2022
When it comes to the art prize that stops a nation, there are a couple of must-have features in the works that make our short-list –impact and layers of meaning. The smaller often exquisite portraits are beautiful, but don’t pack quite enough punch to make a lasting impression. The following selection really fill the wall and haunt you long after.
The thriller-esque Laura Tingle - The Fourth Estateby James Powditch depicts the fearless political journalist and correspondent for ABC-TV’s 7.30 shadowed with an unwavering lit gaze. Searching for the truth in the darkness, through a collage of texts imprinted on her face– a powerful image in the era of fake news and endless spin.
In The Big Switch - a portrait of Dr Saul Griffith by Jude Rae, the inventor and engineer holds a power cord in the middle of the red-earth outback. Framed by solar panels, the work proposes electricity from renewables as an obvious solution to reduce emissions compared to the dirtier energy sources that the Australia seems reluctant to part ways with.
Blak Douglas’ Moby Dickens features a portrait of the Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, angry faced, holding two leaking buckets, ankle deep in water with more rain clouds hovering overhead. Unmistakeably, this captures Lismore on Bundjalung Country during the February floods when the community was left fend for themselves for weeks before any government assistance arrived.
Other witty and alluring entries include Courtney &Shane by Kim Leutwyler showing the two identities of the flawless drag queen Courtney Act, and Venus by Jordan Richardson featuring Benjamin Law in a reinterpretation of Diego Velázquez’s 17th-century painting The Rokeby Venus (complete with a very beautiful bottom).
Irrational (Midori Goto) by Kathrin Longhurst and Peter Garrett by Anh Do both draw the viewer in with arresting, determined eyes, while Brooke (Boney) and Jimmy by Laura Jones uses fluoro pink to accent the journalist and TV presenter’s vibrant yet relaxed personality and home life.
The YAKKAVIEW WINNER: Laura Tingle - The Fourth Estateby James Powditch
This prize for the best landscape painting shows the beauty of the Australia and the various ways artists from different backgrounds connect to the Country. Across the three prizes, there are 27 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artists who were named finalists. The most were in the Sulman Prize (section below), but many of the immediate highlights of the Wynne prize are by Indigenous artists.
Yukultji Napangati’s Untitled using pattern to create texture with white and orange colours that must be seen full appreciated. It draws on designs associated with the site of Marrapinti, west of Kiwirrkurra, a rockhole amid the endless dunes of the Gibson Desert in Western Australia.
Mother and daughter duo Betty Chimney and Raylene Walatinna created painting with an intriguing composition about their Country around Indulkana in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia. Betty Chimney uses painting to share stories and culture saying, “When I was younger, the older ladies here taught me a lot about Country and culture, and I love sharing this with my daughter through our paintings”.
In the middle of the exhibition, Nicholas Harding’s giant Eoraspans 374.8cm and illicits a big exhale as it transports you to a lush Sydney forest. With pandanus trees, cabbage palms and ferns it’s a reflection of the fragile ecosystem that are now small, dwindling pockets amongst suburban developments.
The abstract Eagle spirit, Vathiwarta by John R Walker of the northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, has a magical quality with the light background and intricate mountain shapes in reds and purples and yellows.
And finally, painted on the wooden doors of a sideboard, Julianne Ross Allcorn’s Implexis illustrates Australia flora in all its glory, based on the four seasons as she knows them – and intertwined with the six seasons from the Indigenous D’harawal calendar.
The lesser-known prize of the trio invites artists to submit subject paintings, genre paintings or mural projects in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.
The stand-out work in this group is from last year’s Archibald winner Vincent Namatjira. Titled The royal tour (the balcony),it shows the Aboriginal artist on equal footing with the Royal Family – a nod to his great-grandfather Albert Namatjira (also an artist) who met Queen Elizabeth II back in 1954. The tongue-in-cheek is palpable as his caricature depiction emphasises the features, personalities and differences between he figures.
Others worthy of a mention are Louise Zhang’s The eye of Qidu, seeing over me and Grandpa reminiscing about her home in China with celestial shapes and other symbology.
Rodney Pople’s Dairy country shows his signature zebra, very out of place on an Australian dairy farm, and Charles Rose’s Hand of Faith captures the moment and the place that the largest gold nugget ever located by a metal detector was found in country Victoria in 1980.
Danie Mellor’s After the end of the world shows two Aboriginal men carry out Ceremony under the watchful and intrusive eyes of the colonial settlers, and the twisted and colourful liner shape in Belem Lett’s Bending over backwards takes our eyes on a journey that ends right back where it begins – creating a strange empathy for the pipe-like shape confined to the painting’s parameter and seemingly grappling with an identity crisis.
The YAKKAVIEW WINNER: Vincent Namatjira’s The Royal Tour (the balcony)
Yakkazoo honours, acknowledges and pays respect to the traditional custodians whose country we work on. We are committed to treasuring and nurturing the world’s oldest adapting culture and our First Peoples connection to land, sea and sky.