Guest Post: Wally Dali – Archibalds 2023

We are approaching a point of Cultural Totality in the West. Soon, instant match media and the forces of promotion and censorship which leverage it will present the watching proles with an ever-present circus where approved musicians are granted exhibition space for visual art, endorsed politicians have their DJ setlists available for download on streaming services, and paperback writers are rotated through panel shows to expouse upon their political cures for the sins of civilization. As a visual backdrop, healthy bodies and natural families are banned from billboards, every man on TV advertisements is plump, dumb, unshaved and unbuttoned, and the top 10 music videos on the kid-friendly slot of Saturday Morning Rage are a parade of sexual deviancy and gender mash-ups. Just as the only political expressions given uncritical reign are calls for deliverance on personal entitlement and indulgence of group gripes, the only artistic efforts which are deemed axiomatically safe enough to headline festivals and be projected upon the Opera House are infantile and homogenous… when they’re not deliberately ugly.

Artists are celebrities, youth embarking on a lifetime of state support are political ingenuex, musicians are children’s book authors, sportsmen are bronze icons. Art is increasingly about the feelz of the artist, not their efforts with mastering their media or their struggle to communicate with and about their subject. And the subject is increasingly famous only for being politicized and oikophobic- culturally critical of their home. There is no irony in the art world any more. There is not even any need to deliver to the commercial market- the State and their subsidized portfolio of Festivals, prizes and grants is rich pickings, entirely predictable and surprisingly easy to satisfy. If there is, anywhere on Earth or at any time in history, any safer or more supported place to be an artist than in the West in the 21st Century, then I don’t know what planet we’re on.

I haven’t bought the paper, ie the Weekend Australian, for more than a year, but picked up a copy to put my feet up post-harvest. I was not taken aback seeing the boobs, tattoos and shaved nether regions on the cover of the Review liftout, ostensibly the culturally critical part of the publication (and home of Christopher Allen, who I do enjoy and recommend)- sexual display, body modification, and pervy infantilization are all part of the continuum of degradation which the cultural elite inflict upon our institutions, in this example some random harridan’s “classical” dance show. (A quick glance over the article, which I of course didn’t read, has the byline signing off with the floorshow’s scheduled run at the local equivalent of a Weimar Cabaret dive, the MyState Bank Arena in Hobart- the existence of which is a darkly hilarious phenomenon in itself).

But it jogged my memory- it’s May- it’s Archibald Prize time!

I figure in the approaching Cultural Totality, I figure it does not matter much that I am late to the website. We’ve missed the peak of the shortlist – prize announcement cycle, which at least used to be a bit of intrigue. No bother, it’s not like I was wagering upon it, though I do admit I wait upon it with a bit of lazily morbid fascination.

At first blush, I can see that there has not been much radical change from the subjects, styles and executions of previous years- after all, we’re on a gentle slope to Hell (maybe think of it as a well-lubricated gravy train trail to the Dark Mofo coven in Hades’ Tasmania). Colour is fading out, this year’s grey background environment is darker, there’s thankfully less drawing, although every drawing is an automatic fail from me. The compressing smartphone lens is everywhere, and again, is a fail. I have also failed pastiche, which, ironically is also lessening as the west unmoors itself from its foundations.

But that’s just my opinion, of course. I’m looking forward to hearing yours. Open up a parallel tab of the AGNSW website, click your way through the e-Welcome To Country, have a read, and comment as much as you can. For extra fun, explain which piece you would award, and which you could imagine having in your home.

Abdul Abdullah has made a selfie-snap facsimile of the view of a bored gallery-goer, maybe a surly urban student on a class trip, wandering around and slouched down to regard his own reflection in a telephone screen. At the right size it might be an affecting bit of trompe-l’oeil, with steeply raked foreshortening of the arms and hands, but I suspect the scale will be too grand to carry that illusion. Instead it‘s more like the fat-armed, microcephalic animations of a Bankwest ad. Huge areas of flat black destroy any illusion of space. Hand and wrist tatts destroy any illusion of character.

Matt Adnate’s “Echoes of a teenage superstar” might be a sympathetic portrait of a man whose time lies in the past- a giant face, the slack mouth and eyes of a long-time amphetamine abuser- and the mannered dragging of streaks of neon blue background over the visage has generated an echo of the static degradation of an image on what I am informed used to be called “telly”. But the bloated jaw betrays the short lens of a camera close-up.

Fail- photography.

Jill Ansell looks east, and fails for writing on the frame- it actually looks like a lively likeness, but let down by cramming a distorted elbow around the edge of the journal.

Fail- text.

Natasha Bieniek, I like. The composition might be a bit risky, and the pose treacherously unflattering to say the least, but confidently varied brushstrokes and a gutsily heavy working of a youngish face have made her a good painterly painting of herself, in scene which makes her personage kinda compelling. She might regret the small areas of flat darkness, but they’re in the right place- she might regret the awkward leg-handle of the table against the wall, but it’s also in the right place, ie the background.

A good worthy shortlister- oh for an exhibition full of works of this calibre!

Never enough… enough… cats? I’ll take the subject’s ostentatious shin tatts as license to look at her body, which is an awkward corner of flat areas, black expanses and oddly folded limbs. Her face is a blank expanse. She might be too young to be an interesting subject… I suspect that like many tatt collectors, she’s a bit dull.

Not offensive per se… but not interesting either.

Angela Brennen has “painted” a “Portrait of Erik Jensen”. A faux-naïve art project made of heavy lines… lines in different colours do not elevate it to a painting.

Fail- drawing.

If Sam Leach is in his studio, surely he’d sit still and let Keith Burt use the damn thing for a few hours? Obvious photograph base. Or, poor Sam has got serious fluid retention in his legs and the hands of a giant. The contorted chair with an oddly skew-whiff chook leg chrome pedestal must be a terror for the unwary… another transmogrification of the smartphone lens.

Fail- photograph.

I’m very turned on by graphic design. A good caricature, colour, composition. It can really make a journal like the Spectator pop. But that’s the protective distance of the press- this portrait does not belong as a serious attempt to connect with a living person and carry their likeness to the viewer. It might really be a very good capture of Elizabeth Pulie, but then why use paint to make a flat collage, Mitch Cairns?

Melissa Clemens should be congratulated for carrying the zeitgeisty phenomenon of the smartphone snap from the driver’s seat out of Facebook and into the AGNSW. Such dashcam views are all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and one day may even be ironic relics of bygone days when the proles had the income for leisure, the freedom to communicate and the liberty of owning cars- the Millennial version of the bas-relief cameo.

There’s a good feature of Australian sun too, squeezing a squint out of a youthful face, just tickling the outside eye, picking out the auburn hair and stirring up the rose underglow of pale skin. She should have been more careful with her necklace, and taken more time with matching the unfortunately lumpen background with the photorealism of her face.

Fail- photograph.

Primrose Potter looks like a good sort. Severe hair and a bit of tension in the face maybe, but I’d guess hers has been a life of a fair degree of self-discipline- after all, that’s how one earns a title and a gong in Australia. Or, it is for the meantime. Nice dabby bit of proto-pointilism from Yvette Coppersmith, and an interesting go at a bit of Matisse’s halo in the shadows of her subject and her sculpture.

If I ever came accross Barrabimbayarra doing her “Distinguished In Arts And Letters” thing coming down the hotel hallway, dressed in a garbage bag and carrying a coolamon full of smoking ceremony, I’d know exactly who she was in an instant, thanks to Luke Cornish’s remarkable painting.

Fail- photograph.

Emily Crockford has drawn a jauntily Satanic sketch for the early childhood sensory book, That’s Not My Adult Human Female!

Such is the dour state of the Archibald that there’s a dearth of information in the painting titles- combine this with the phenomenon that An Australian Distinguished In Arts And Letters now encompasses just about anyone, it’s hard to know whether Cameron Dimopoulos has painted a pointless triplicate of his own self trying to remember where he’d set up the automatic timer tripod, or a candid surveillance sketch of three men of No Appearance. With No Background, either. The blue kurta-pyjamas might be authentic, or some version of an Islamic costume, but their execution just looks plain lazy.

Say what you like about Anh Do- go on, say it- but you have to give him credit for putting a hell of a lot of time, effort and study into making his paintings look spontaneous, easy and unstudied.

The phenomenon of the multiple eye rears its weird head again. Megacephaly in a black void. If you knew and/or loved the late Archie Roach, it’s probably very touching. If you didn’t… I think Do’s do’s are disposable.

Will we look upon the podgy unshaven man-child of the 21st century West as a stylistic phenomenon of place and time, like the lean and brylcreemed beachgoing youth of the 50’s?
Not to snipe though, it’s a very good painting. Brushwork lively and deliberate, but not distracting- maybe a bit too fancy with the reverse-burn shadows in the lower left corner. (don’t park pointless distractions in the corners, David Fenoglio, that’s Composition 101). The picture carries that interesting quality where the subject’s attention seems to roam around the space he looks upon, as the viewer roams around his face- Christopher Bassi looks like an interesting bloke. Looking slightly down at the viewer is a power pose- have a shave and I might even warm to him.

Fenoglio’s done well to carry gravity in a youngish and relatively unlined subject.

Eliza Gosse has shown us nothing but cold, flat people having a cold, flat time. For all intents it may as well be a vinyl sticker on the back window of their Mitsubishi.

A disembodied eye again glares out of a painting- this time photorealistic, a child’s pictogram finger-painted on a foggy window, but a Satanic motif nonetheless. If it is indeed Noni Hazelhurst who Jaq Grantford has airbrushed into a biscuit-tin still from a 90’s daytime telemovie, the Eye Of Sauron is a good reminder that she’s a nasty piece of work, and hates the country.

It’s stretching the idea of “portrait” to apply it to this work by David Griggs.

Julia Gutman won the Archibald Dollarbucks with a condescendingly weak “painting” of no-one in particular.

There’s a good living personality looking out of Tsering Hannaford’s painting of Nanna Mara. It’s a bit let down with a phoned-in treatment of arms and décolletage, airbrushed to the point of plasticity, and the blank art background in this year’s colour, Storm Grey. And I’m a bit concerned with the pink hair, which I regard as a manifestation of Satanism.

Drusilla Modjeska is a writer, and Katherine Hattam is a writer too. I won’t take the bait of the idiotically photo-foreshortened figure and flatscreen appearance of little-watched Laura Tingle.

Fail on two strikes- photography and text.

There’s Something About Harry is an interesting and subtle portrait by John Hillier, with a wary engagement around his eyes. I don’t reckon it would stand up to repeated viewing though, there’s a disconnection between the slick brushwork trying to dodge around the human animal- it wouldn’t have broken Harry’s heart to have shown stubble or wrinkles.

Michelle Hiscock can paint…a bit. Deft dabs around the cragginess of Don Walker’s aging face, portraying a bloke who is maybe a bit surprised at becoming an elder statesman in a field of burn-outs. (Why call it The Songwriter? Just name Don Walker plainly, not every subject is worthy of owning an occupational noun outright.) The eyes are unconvincing, and it’s let down by an unimaginative and claustrophobic setting in Storm Grey.

(There’s a story from a past winner who did a large and mannered pic of David Wenham- but he did say it was a deliberately brief and spontaneous process, so he did a series of ten, same pose and composition, and selected the one which seemed to come together best. This process might be a good suggestion for this sort of artist, who seems like she can slap paint around happily but doesn’t seem to have pushed herself to entertain the viewer.)

Andrea Huelin won the Packing Room with her portrait of one-trick pony Cal Wilson done up in My Little Pony pastel plastic. She looks bright and shallow, the brushwork is bright and non-committal to any engagement with character… closer inspection will realise that there are disembodied baby doll parts arranged in her neo-pagan headdress. See, I told you that pink hair is a harbinger of evil.

I’m assuming that the lime-lit figure in Laura Jones’ quick greasepaint sketch is Claudia Karvan. The blank look of a professional performer at rest. Unaffecting… adding “The GOAT” to the title adds no buzz to the ho-hum.

Some paintings make me think, why does the artist use paint to make a cut-out collage? What’s the point? Does Jason Jowett have a fear of scissors, an allergy to glue-sticks? Or is Alex Greenwich an extensive skin graft recipient?

Daniel Kim’s self-portrait is hammy to the point of rudeness. There’s a horrible hack where his hand supports the open spine of a bound portfolio… and his whole head, apparently tilting down to peruse said book, does not show an inclined face, but looks a lot more like a full face compressed on the lateral plane. If Greg Warburton is any sort of mentor…. he’d have a quiet word.

A high-resolution and full scale reproduction of Kim Luytwiler’s “Zoe” should hang in every classroom in Australia.

There’s a huge, blank, miserable girl. Her head has an evasive and confused tilt- a full womanly mouth hangs silent over a delicate chin, and under blank but needy eyes. The plump flesh of adolesence hangs heavy on narrow shoulders, and the horrid, life-denying scars of a bilateral mastectomy are shown under a coy arm, raised to display a teenager’s collection of plain gold bangle and rings on a school-soft hand. The indelible line of a woman’s hourglass waist swerves inside her other arm, which is aping the dopily ghetto act of hooking down her oversized denim jeans to show y-fronts in masculine red. A snail trail of dark hair descends from her navel- most women might only see the linea nigra phenomenon with the hormonal surge of a pregnancy- Zoe never will. This hirsuiteness, we can assume, has been promulgated by artificial testosterone treatment- an ungodly cocktail which has, in all likelihood, irreversibly determined that she will never bear children. Her belly button is an empty black hole.

Zoe may or may have waited until she was statutorially entitled to put her body through these brutal cosmetic procedures- or she may have been mutilated by the adults in her life who should have protected her. Luytwiler has further carried the damning theme of the look-at-me defacement of women with arrogant slaps of artificial paint over her distaff side.

This painting should be preserved as a warning for posterity. A perverse part of me wishes that it had won the prize outright, and one day soon be hung around the neck of our culture like a rotting albatross.

Sarah McCloskey is a few years too late- or maybe far too anaemically anodyne for my salty taste- to get any spark of interest with the “Social Distancing”. Note the pink hair, as prevalent this year as the Storm Grey room.

Fail- photograph.

Catharine McGuinness- Freo Market art.

Fail- text.

I really like William Mackinnon’s little piece. After so much airbrushing and faux-naievete, it’s wonderfully lively, Rich Lewer seen in the middle of telling some story and absently scratching his arm. Even the flat torso is made alive with the wrinkly red lines across his have-a-go weekend wear shirt. An authentically messy scene- even with the Bunnings blow-mold table, I could actually live with it. Hanging down the shed, of course.

There’s a bad fault with the crotch of Ronnie Kahn’s linen pants suit- very unfortunate, as the thumbs cocked out of her pockets direct the eye to a vague smudge and incongruently high line. A mug’s fumble, considering the careful composition and colour matching. Marie Mansfield is 90% of the way there- just take a tiny bit more time, honestly. If I ever met Ronnie in person, the ostentatious jewelry and heavy frames would bug me… but not as much as the AO citation.

A Portrait of Intimacy is a drawing. The human brain does not see the world in black and white, nor sepiatone.

Fail- drawing.

Lewis Miller’s self-portrait is good… but only in a competent, art-class kind of way. Maybe some sort of background, Lewie- tell us a bit about yourself.

There’s an electric field of colour framing a happily engaging sort of older bird, who is doing some hokey pokey stuff with her hands… giant hands which again betray the smartphone capture. Charles Mouyat has given us no further clues with the labored titling, in English and bracketed Latin, just in case we didn’t know he was being arty and literary at the same time.

Fail- photography.

A grand-looking painting of John Symond has been carefully put together- very old-fashioned within a drawing-room setting, at three-quarter length, and with serious gravity in the sitter’s gaze. Let down a bit by an odd looking chook and Symonds’ non-committal right arm, swayed back like he’s just remembered that he was meant to pick up his keys somewhere. Storm Grey- again!- gives a cold and glum atmosphere to Paul Newton’s labour, although it does make the healthy glow of the human pop out nicely.

A worthy shortlister to me, though. Top five.

Before Jason Phu had confessed to using photography in this shallow pastiche of a Japanese ink wash, I’d already failed him for drawing.

Fail- drawing.

Bugger me, every year James Powditch does another photo transfer of a harshly chiaroscuro’d ABC type, black background, written instructions and a dopey coloured quilt edge.

Fail. Fail, fail, fail, I shouldn’t have to explain reasons. Maybe the Packing Room should also have the power to strike out any repetitious merde which only adds to their workload. The only reasonable explanation for continued shortlist selection would be that Powditch must have compromising photographs of someone in the higher-up. He’s obviously got photographs of every other Sydney poseur.

Ryan Presley has scribbled out a polymer thin pastiche of the Australian fiver, with an unhappy jowly old lady in the place of the British monarch and the lazy-eight infinity symbol in place of the Arabic numeral. If he’s trying to make some point about Aboriginal Australians being owed the everlasting gift of Australian affluence, then he’s come up short. It’s oddly called “Blood Money”, maybe because “Payback” has unfortunate connotations of very real violence. And “Humbug” would be ungenerous.

Fail- drawing, pastiche.

I’m depressed that this is what passes for wit in the art world. But, it aligns perfectly with the Cathedral’s belief system, so of course it’s in the state gallery.

Thom Roberts’ piece is depressing to look at. Not only because of the papier-mache-thin sculpture element, or the unfortunate Thalidomide figure, or his signature visual pun of disturbing frogs-eggs eyes… but because this is apparently all we expect of artworks these days.

Solid black lines and flat colour betray that Charlotte Ruth only ever wanted to make Poster Art with this portrait. Maybe the bloke in his PJ’s is a poster boy for Arts and Letters, we’ll never know, and we’ll never feel the need to get to know with this sort of anonymously two-dimensional effort.

Ignore the bunny toy. Ignore the bunny toy. Dammit, like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, it’s impossible to keep out of your mind once you’ve noticed, and it’s a damn shame, because it’s an otherwise very classy painting. The belle-epoque wallpaper behind the confidently and casually seated figure is blown out into a halo by the light of her presence- her face is engaged and caught between a quiet nod and wry aloofness. Wonderful lush materials hang in space all around her, even her shoes are treasures. Good stuff, Sally Ryan- but seriously, don’t stuff around with the rabbit again.

Even the faith-baiting title of “Hallowed Be Thy Name” cannot entice me to get interested about this painting from Marakit Santiago. Flat gazes from flat people on flat board- I know that someone loves this woman and these kids, but that does not mean that their mere presence can carry compulsion. Her lifted chin puts me off, too, that’s one part of modern Australia I could do without.

Oliver Shepherd should note that a female Maestro is a Maestra. There has been a recent concerted effort to make female conductors famous, lately from film, television and paper media alike. I really don’t know why, perhaps they were losing too many girls to “STEM”? Jessica Cottis looks severe, flat, urban and uncomfortable in sunshine, which I suppose might be a realistic portrayal of the life of an SO type. She’s surrounded by straight lines and flat space, perched on a stiletto baton and an unlikely blue Monarch butterfly, which could be a metaphor. It might all be a metaphor.

Ramesh is living in a horrible apparition, where his dark detailed face (again, the lifted chin) is surrounded by ever more hacky and light areas- they form his ho-hum body, which is floating on top of some sort of carnival float ghoul. Lame, Kilvana Selvarage- MTV composition and a “that’ll-do” level of effort just looks cheap.

I don’t know who Zachaariaha Fielding is… he might well be completely A.I. generated, looking at his cod-African muu-muu and his cod-Kibbutzim name. His shiny skin and botox stare add to the idea that he’s not really alive like you and I… is he really Distinguished In Arts And Letters? Will anyone remember him when this portrait next sees the light of day, maybe like a rediscovered oil-on-board of a blue-skinned Asian courtesan found by a hipster in an op shop? “Wow, Storm Grey- that’s like totally 2023”.

Again, I can see what at first glance is a very well turned-out painting, only to look more and be quickly let down. Katharine Murphy has come up trumps in a lovely portrait, done how just about every late-middle-aged woman of a certain dress size would like to be remembered- bright, happy, engaged. But despite it being clad in slimming black, an enormously projecting knee can’t hide- and ironically the smartphone generation still didn’t give Judith Sinnamon the confidence to tackle some hands, with both deliberately amputated by the uncomfortable composition.

Fail- photograph.

Why do I feel like I have seen this piece of Joseph Tawadros before? Is it because it’s actually a bit anonymous? Try harder, Randall Sinnamon, there’s a real person behind the two-dimensional dervish getup.

Lottie looks lovely. Earnest and genuine, hands alive and leaning in with what looks like a conspiratorially listening attitude. Clare Thackway has carried off that magic trick of a face which is looking in multiple directions, yet does not look distorted. Brushwork is energetic but in no way makes realism the second fiddle to mannerism, which I reckon is the perfect poise of a painter. If someone could do a portrait of your wife or your mum as genuine as this, you’d be thrilled.

Natasha Walsh, Dear Ben, the scream (after Pope Innocent X)

There’s so much to hate about this piece, I’ll just let the title serve as explanation of the masturbation served up.

Oliver Watts looks like he’s stuck reproducing the miasma of his own mannerism. The ripped-paper sky may as well be anywhere- it’s ripped away from any connection to the foreground- the cardboard-cut-out people may as well be anyone.

“Kaylene Whiskey, Cooking my famous Indulkana soup” is the perfect representation of the deliberate infantilization of Aboriginal people in art and culture in the modern West.


There’s a Titian-like clarity to Marcus Willis’s painting. Jack and Nikki are figures swamped in a Storm Grey existence, dully dressed in black boots and comfy jumpers, apparently shuffling around in circles, backstage at 2 AM, long after the lights have gone up. It’s a bit endearing in a very bleak way… but their faces hold nothing. They are mannequins. I couldn’t stand to be around this for too long.

Patrice Wills’s portrait of some old bloke suffers from a lack of effort. If you’re going to fudge the form, at least get the colours nailed. If colour isn’t your thing, then get interested in the form. Another inexplicable admission into the final hanging selection.

Shevaun Wright and Sophia Hewson… What a mess. What an ugly, ugly mess. We have left any meaningful effort at portraiture far, far behind by now.

There might be a sentimental reason for Tiger Yaltangki to be included, year after year, no matter what he does. What he does is faux-naievete and writing on the canvas.

Fail- text.

Zoe Young- Latrell and Winmarra-

Fail. Fail fail fail. Honestly, why? Why does any artist want to include a smartphone icon or TV logo in a hanging artwork? Why work with canvas and colour, just to solidify a low resolution image from ephemeral screen? It may be meant to be some cooly ironic inclusion, but it just looks brain-dead.

Fail- text. And impersonating a photograph.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
May 20, 2023 2:17 pm

Outstanding, Wally.

I like the idea of an emerging “Cultural Totality” of all things.
This is a very good description of what’s happening in the arts, education, law, politics and letters.

May 20, 2023 3:09 pm

Thanks Wally! Finally posted.

Love and agree with all the descriptions. I mentioned the other day…the winner is mixed media using “found” items. I’m not sure stitching denim on a canvas is classed as a painting. Some of the stuff would be okay on a coffee mug (that being said, I’m drinking tea from one just now from the Ufizzi with Primavera on it).

So much of the work is just a mockery of beauty, and even of the sitter. Definitely the viewer – I DARE you to criticise this Art.

My favourite is the portrait of Bassi, followed by Symonds. I loved Lottie’s gingham background.

May 20, 2023 3:10 pm

That would be Uffizi. The tea has no fizz at all.

May 20, 2023 4:52 pm

I used to have a book about Ivor Hele; a catalogue of an AWM exhibition I think. I don’t have the book/cattledog anymore, but vaguely recollect he won a few Archibalds in the several decades postwar? (Can’t be buggered searching online to confirm). During the war, Hele was with my late paternal grandfather’s unit for a bit, sketching and later painting (back in his studio) several well-received canvases, none of which I’ve seen up close. To actually reach the battle area, Hele along with Damien Parer, had to trudge on foot for five days, so just to reach their subjects, let alone sketch, paint & photograph them, was a substantial commitment. Perhaps it’s a cheap and easy point to compare then with now, but still …

Great article, Wally; good lead-in.
My choices -leaning more traditionally, are: Bieniek, Fenoglio, Grantford (I dislike the scribbles though), Hannaford, Newton. I think.

I might have included McCloskey’s without the add-ons (despite the lack of depth), Ryan’s if the subject’s hairstyle didn’t freak me out, or Wills if not for the female’s awkward posture.

May 20, 2023 6:51 pm

The portrait of the aboriginal lady is quite good, I think.

May 20, 2023 7:17 pm

As to why…it looks like it was actually posed for and might be a good likeness of the subject.

And it is not weighted with any obvious political “statement”, as tempting as that might have been in the current year. (I’m writing that without knowing who the subject is, not that that would necessarily change my opinion.)

May 20, 2023 7:34 pm

I’ve now looked at them all.

I quite like Yvette Coppersmith’s Lady Primrose.

As for which I would hang in my home… none of them.

When it comes to portraiture and art, generally, I dislike realism. I don’t see the point of it. Take a photograph and be done with it. On the other hand, I detest hyper-abstraction. Something in between appeals to me. I like Clifton Pugh’s Barry Humphries (1958), for example.

May 20, 2023 7:37 pm
May 20, 2023 7:48 pm

I thought Jonathan Leak’s portrait of Jacinta Price last year as superb, but of course it didn’t make the cut. Leaves one to wonder.

May 21, 2023 6:01 am

Art is not freedom of expression, Art is curated. I learn’t this from the AGNSW ,partaking in Kimsooja’s archive of the mind , they wanted you to empty your mind of distraction so I made a clay cube and placed it in the art work….they removed it.

May 21, 2023 8:00 am

“Wow, Storm Grey- that’s like totally 2023”.

Storm Grey – the new Black Velvet.

May 21, 2023 9:12 am

Thanks Wally, a tour de farce worthy of our new Minister of the Yartz, following the untimely demise of that cultural titan, Sir Les Patterson KBE.

I tried to look at all the “portraits” but it’s way too much on a Sunday morning, especially while attempting to enjoy breakfast.

A cavalcade of grotesque shite, the very antithesis of art.

May 21, 2023 9:28 am

lotocoti says:
May 21, 2023 at 8:00 am

“Wow, Storm Grey- that’s like totally 2023”.

Storm Grey – the new Black Velvet.

Apologies for the digression (it’s my super power), but as soon as I read the last two words of lotocoti’s quote, the name Alannah Myles popped into my head.

May 21, 2023 9:42 am

My apoplexy for making this polititical, but regarding the kitch-‘n-trite five nulla nulla polymer note (via Wally’s link above, about 3/4 of the way down the page, on the right):

(1). Do indig people purchase indig artwork (I’m not talking about with taxpayer’s money), or is it mainly Caucasians?
(2). Prior to Europeans arriving, were the artistic endeavours (fridge magnets, postcards, etc.) restricted to only certain members of the clan/tribe, or could anyone express themselves and make a living as they do now?

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare
May 21, 2023 10:19 am

Walli Dali, that’s a terrific culturally situating intro, and thanks for it. Art lives in its surrounding culture, and ours is a mess, and so therefore is the Archibald these days. It doesn’t fulfil its remit of portraiture of the well-known, nor even does well venturing into showing the everyday person, because it ventures for that not much further than Sydney’s east or inner west’s cultural mindset. When it does self-portraits, you get the same actual geography. I divide this exhibition up into the traditional (often photographically assisted), the vaguely impressionist in painting, and the nonsense, which is basically all of the rest of the pastiche, the collage, the scribbles and ink, the try-hard textuals, the political declamatory noise makers etcetera.

In the Traditionals, and ignoring photographic issues, I rather liked Patrice Wells for his unassuming man relaxing back in ‘no place like home’, Clare Thackway’s lovely ‘Lottie’ clasping her hands and searching for your eyes, and especially Danie Mellor’s ‘A portrait of intimacy, with a quite mysterious woman in profile against a shadow picture. Also-rans for me in this category were Michael Sim’s ‘Zaachariaha’ for its Oriental drama rather than its personal portraiture, Sally Ryan’s ‘Year of the Rabbit’ for its briskness in the pose and the woman’s 20’s hairstyle, and Santiago’s ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’ for the floriated trellis arch framing a woman and three children, and for its embrace of family.
In the Impressionists, Oliver Watts vision of three figures at Redleaf pool, including himself, inclines towards a photograph with a splashy overpaint, but it tries, as does Lewis Miller’s self portrait. I’m not bothering to review the nonsense: the winners will suffice for that.

The main prizewinner didn’t impress me at all, Julia Gutman’s ‘Head in the sky, feet in the ground’ with its pseudo impressionism marred by a denim pastiche even though its composition had promise. As for the Packer’s Choice, it was atrocious. Only chosen because it mimicked or mocked the Coronation with a leering crown that rivaled Carmen Miranda’s headgear without any of the fun and style. It was putrid.

In general, this show wasn’t quite as dismal as some in previous years as there was more of a return to painterly expression rather than throwing stuff onto canvas and getting it to stick. (That said, my second son does that as a hobby and some of his stuff is interesting though you’d never call it portraiture as it’s turmoil). Photography rears its head too often though in this return to real portraiture, something the old master’s didn’t have (though some may have used light boxes to help, just as the later Greeks sometimes turned to Plaster of Paris moulding of the human form to help get their statues right). A portrait has to be recognisable as the person sitting for it but to convey something of what the artist perceives about a known life showing in a human face. The character of the person, or perhaps their lesser known side. Portraiture of unknown people can also do this, but we rely more on the artist to give us our bearings.

May 21, 2023 1:09 pm

(2). Prior to Europeans arriving, were the artistic endeavours (fridge magnets, postcards, etc.) restricted to only certain members of the clan/tribe, or could anyone express themselves and make a living as they do now?

Gave me a great laugh there Muddy – kudos !

  1. I see the dem hivemind has sent out the batsignal. Joe is the most noble man EVAH!!! He stepped down…

  2. Idea for a satirical comedy: Aspiring political leader accidentally takes truth serum before big TV debate. Has it already been…

  3. As far as the Left whining about being cancelled, screw them. Just remind them that we are playing by *their*…

Oh, you think that, do you? Care to put it on record?x