Daniel Boyd, a shade above: winner of the 2014 BVLGARI ART AWARD

Leading Australian artist Daniel Boyd is the successful recipient of the 2014 BVLGARI ART AWARD for his work Untitled2014. 

Announced yesterday by Dr Michael Brand, director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Boyd’s artwork impressed the judging panel with its contemporary rendering of an historical scene, exploring the effects of time and memory on the interpretation of objects and images.

In Untitled 2014, Boyd derives his subject from a small historical photograph of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu.  Both a personal and social account of history, Pentecost Island was home to Boyd’s great, great paternal grandfather before he was taken as slave to the sugarcane fields in Queensland.  Reflective, emotive and intriguing, Untitled 2014 reveals greater historical concerns including the ethics of colonisation and the authority of prevailing Eurocentric perspectives on Australian history.

Mirroring his conceptual practice of using a small historical photograph to examine larger historical concerns in the process of art and memory, Untitled is dominantly large in scale in contrast to the small, subtle dots that make up the image.  The shifts in light and transparent tonal gradations created by the dots of paint portray a softly lit image of the landscape and figures. The masterful blend of traditions in form and content as if in a cross-cultural conversation is reminiscent of both Western and Aboriginal art practice.

Wayne Tunnicliffe, head curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, noted Boyd’s contribution to Australian art, stating thatthis painting is apart of a significant body of work in which Boyd has developed a new visual language for history painting.”

On a larger scale Boyd states “My recent work is about the trajectory of information and how it passes back and forth over time and between cultures.” Through the movement of information, details and facts associated with historical events and objects are lost.”

The reduced colour palette of Untitled 2014 is a snapshot of a historical moment that will never be fully comprehended. Theuse of dots references the idea of the cultural lens and the fact that society incorporates a multitude of perspectives. It is Boyd’s ability to bring representations of our history into a unique contemporary view that is impressive, which does not allow the viewer to shy away from the past.

The prestigious prize includes a $50,000 painting acquisition for the Art Gallery of New South Wales and a residency in Italy valued at $30,000. The award winner is selected by the Gallery’s Trustees, the director and the head curator of Australian art. Previous winners include Michael Zavros in 2012 and Jon Cattapan in 2013.

Art Gallery of NSW

Daniel Boyd’s Untitled 2014, oil, pastel and archival glue on canvas, 315 × 223.5 cm

Photography by AGNSW

Courtesy the Artist

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