Artist 'what' wins top Australian portrait prize
October 30 2019 10:13 AM
Artist 'what' wins top Australian portrait prize
Artist 'what' wins top Australian portrait prize


An artist who goes by the pseudonym ‘what’ has won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, one of Australia's most coveted honours, claiming 150,000 dollars (102,000 US dollars) in prize money.

The artist won for his life-size, technicolour oil painting of The Go-Betweens guitarist Robert Forster, the Moran Arts Foundation said in a statement on Wednesday.

The artist beat close to 1,000 entries this year to claim the prize, which was established in 1988 and is considered Australia's richest art prize.

The thirty finalists will each receive 1,000 dollars.

The artwork ‘is intriguing for its lack of solid form... like a technicolour apparition; neither concrete shape nor exact likeness,’ judges Kelly Gellatly and Nigel Milsom said.

‘The artist has used an array of coloured broken brushstrokes as both decoration and form, while skilfully rendering three-dimensional space. For the judges, this work embodies the endless possibilities of contemporary portraiture and painting.’  The artist was born in Queensland in 1972. His practice covers painting, performance, sculpture and installation. This is his first major art prize.

‘That's highly unexpected... That is a life-changing sum,’ the artist said after he was announced the winner. He said it was the third time he had painted the musician.

‘Robert was so important to me as a baby artist in Australia. Great music. Wearing lipstick, wearing dresses,’ what said.

The Doug Moran prize is awarded to original work by an Australian artist of an Australian subject, painted at least partly from life.

Organisers say the award is also the richest prize in portraiture in the world.

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