2017 Kilgour Art Prize Announced

Congratulations to Cameron Stead, winner of the Kilgour Prize 2017.

Stead was awarded $50,000 for his portrait painting Between you and me (2017) on Saturday evening at the Newcastle Art Gallery. The annual prize for figurative and portrait painting is the funded by the bequest of artist Jack Noel Kilgour.

The judges also noted two of this year’s entries for honourable mention, John Edwards’ entry Young Mary-Ann Bugg on the Run 2017 and Lucas Grogan’s The Wrestlers 2016.

The three-judge panel included two independent judges – Tony Oates, Curator Exhibitions, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University and Charles Robb, practising artist, Associate Lecturer in Art and Design, Queensland University of Technology – and Lauretta Morton.

Judging started from a pool of over 370 works of art, which were shortlisted to 30 finalists, which include Sally Anderson, Michael Bell, Ann Maree Clark, Jerome Dobinson, John Earle, Yvonne East, John Edwards, Anna Glynn, Lucas Grogan, Tanya Jaceglav, Tony Lloyd, Lauren May, Frankie Morgan, John Morris, Rebecca Murray, Adam Oste, Lori Pensini, Tom Phillips, Liam Power, Jordan Richardson, Paul Ryan, Nigel Sense, John Skillington, Tony Slater, Cameron Stead, Robin Lennox Stewart, Mark Tweedie, John R Walker, Chee Yong, Caroline Zilinsky.

The judges noted a striking range of subject matter, size and medium within the category of ‘portrait and figurative painting’ and also that this year’s selected works were varied in scale and composition, with entries from all across Australia.

Lauretta Morton said the judges were particularly impressed by the intensity of Stead’s painting as well as the skilful marriage of subject matter and materials.

“Both the technicality and the materiality of the painting reflected a deft hand and it is edgy in its subject matter and application of paint,” she said. ‘The conceptual element is also strong, in particular the parallels between the image of the bag and the use of latex as a material and backing. Ultimately the material is part of the whole experience of the image and makes this a unique work of art.”

“The selection of this work also opens the prize up into the future – a brave painting that is challenging, temporary in nature and honest.”

Stead is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney, which he will complete this year. This is his first time entering a national art prize.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Newcastle Art Gallery for this opportunity and honestly just to be considered as a finalist,” he said. “An artist’s success is heavily reliant on the art community so this recognition is a sign that I’m headed in the right direction.”

On his work, Stead stated, “The saying goes: write what you know. I think the same can be said for making art and there is much of myself I’m yet to understand. Often perplexed by my own desires, thoughts and actions, I have chosen to paint a self portrait with the intent of interrogation and self-discovery.

Painting for me offers an opportunity to investigate, expose and make sense of the paradoxes and dualisms played out every day, and more specifically in the art-making process itself. Of particular concern are the relationships between form and subject, the tangible and elusory.

The act of auto asphyxiation – suffocating, enwrapped in a plastic bag – represents a moment of distress, but also gratification. My choice to work on natural latex was an intuitive one, a need to examine the formal qualities of the painted surface and the painting as an object. While I normally work to archival standards, the very support for this painting, the latex, will discolour and even deteriorate over time. In many ways, this self portrait is a metaphor for the felt ironies of art-making; its peaks and troughs; fetishisation and abhorrence; introspection and exhibition.”

The exhibition is open to the public until 15 October, with the people’s choice yet to be selected.

2017 Kilgour Prize
Until 15 October
Newcastle Art Gallery

Courtesy the artist and Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle. 

Image: Between you and me, 2017, oil and acrylic on latex, 60 x 50cm

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