Saturday, May 11, 2019

Tony Costa wins $100,000 Archibald Prize 2019

For those interested in portraiture it's interesting to compare the 51 portraits selected for the Archibald Prize - a portrait prize worth AUS$100,000 - with those selected for the BP Portrait Award 2019 (see this week's posts: 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist and Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2019) worth less than half of the Australian prize.

The Archibald Prize ( $100,000)


Sydney artist Tony Costa’s portrait of artist Lindy Lee has won the 2019 Archibald Prize - worth $100,000 to the winner. 

The prize money equates to roughly US$70,000, £53,000 or €62,000.

About The Archibald Prize

The prize will be awarded, in the terms of the will of the late JF Archibald dated 15 March 1916, to the best portrait ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures’.
The painting must be an original portrait painted from life, with the subject known to the artist, aware of the artist’s intention and having at least one live sitting with the artist. It may be painted in any medium  (eg oil, acrylic, watercolour, mixed media) but must not be bigger than 90,000 square cm (eg 3 × 3 m, 1.5 × 6 m).

The 51 finalists for the 2019 Prize included 11 self-portraits, 17 portraits of fellow artists and 12 portraits of people in the art world including acting, media and dance.

2019 Archibald Prize winner Tony Costa
Lindy Lee

oil on canvas, 182.5 × 152 cm
© the artist | Photo: AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins

About the artist - Tony Costa

The artist must have resident in Australia or New Zealand for the whole of the previous year.
  • Age: 64, born in Sydney in 1955 
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: Lives and works in Sydney
  • Art education: completed postgraduate studies at the City Art Institute (but attended law school for two years before giving up law for art
  • Previous appearances in this award: a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2015, 2017 and 2018. (Has regularly been selected for various prestigious prizes in Australia)
  • Websitehttps://www.tonycosta.com.au
  • Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/tony.costa.50309
  • Previous Awards: He has also been represented in the Wynne Prize, the Sulman Prize and the Dobell Prize for Drawing, and won the Paddington Art Prize for landscape painting in 2014. Winner of the Paddington Art Prize for Australian Landscape painting
‘I approach each painting with an empty head, beginning every portrait with charcoal drawings as I collect sensations and information. The challenge for me is to trap the energy of my sitter – the emotional feeling over and above the physical reality. In my portrait of Lindy, I have kept the colour minimal to avoid any visual noise. Ultimately the invention and the unity of the work is what matters most.’ Tony Costa

About the sitter - Lindy Lee

Lindy Lee is a leading contemporary Australian artist and a Zen Buddhist. Her practice explores her Chinese ancestry through the philosophies of Taoism and (Zen) Buddhism.
Lindy Lee, herself an Archibald finalist in 2002, has appeared as a subject in 2006, painted by Bin Xie, and 2012, in a portrait by Kate Beynon.

The reason she was asked to sit
‘I listened to an interview Lindy gave at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and found myself agreeing with many of her ideas. I was attracted to her wisdom, humility, courage, humour and, above all, her deep focus regarding her art practice,’ Tony Costa
Lee said from Shanghai,
“It was very enjoyable to sit for Tony. He just asked me to sit still in meditation for a few hours which is kind of like my favourite sport. I’m thrilled that he’s won. He’s been a very prolific and hardworking artist for many decades and he deserves to win this wonderful prize.” 

The Packing Room Prize ($1,500)


Through the looking glass (portrait of David Wenham) by Tessa MacKayoil on linen, 210 x 330.5 cm

The Packing Room Prize is selected by the staff of the Art Gallery of New South Wales who have to handle, receive, unpack and hang the Archibald Prize entries. Their Head 'Packer', Brett Cuthbertson, gets 52% of the vote

The sitter is an actor called David Wenham and he was painted by Tessa Mackay.  She was born in 1991 and paints large scale hyperrealistic paintings.  This is the first time she's been selected for The Archibald Prize.
‘David delights in strolling through his Sydney neighbourhood, be it the cafe strips for coffee and a yarn with his local barista, or the park where he takes his kids. All the while, he’s happy for passers-by to approach him, demonstrating his curious, generous nature. Sydney had to be part of his portrait, but I wanted to nestle David within a figurative essence of Sydney. David and I searched for a place to create my composition and I chose to situate him in a cafe behind a glass pane, with the streetscape reflecting into the interior. Through this sitting, and looking at my reference images later, I could study David’s face, his hands, arms and shirt, and begin to understand his environment and how he exists in the world. I also desired a challenge with this portrait and painted gradients, organic forms, geometry and vanishing points.’ Tessa MacKay
See also

The ANZ People’s Choice Award ($3,500)


This is voted for by those visiting the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. The winner will be announced on 14 August 2019

Other reviews


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