This nude portrait of Benjamin Law is up for the Archibald Prize

benjamin law archibald prize art portrait
Image: Felicity Jenkins/AGNSW

Artists’ portraits of Benjamin Law and Courtney Act are among the finalists for this year’s prestigious Archibald Portrait Prize.

The Archibald Prize is the country’s oldest and most popular art prize and is awarded each year to a portrait depicting someone “distinguished in art, letters, science or politics.”

The Art Gallery of NSW unveiled the 52 finalists of the 2022 Archibald prize on Thursday. The gallery will announce the winner on May 13.

Among the finalists is painter Jordan Richardson’s nude portrait of writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law. Law sat for the four-time Archibald finalist’s artwork, which is titled, Venus.

“I approached Benjamin about sitting for a portrait because I had imagined a reinterpretation of Diego Velázquez’s 17th-century painting The Rokeby Venus,” Richardson said.

“I felt that Ben would be a perfect candidate. As I’d anticipated, he was happy to give it a red-hot go.

“There is a good deal of Benjamin’s humour embedded in the work. But I also believe it to be a sincerely beautiful picture.

“I love the voyeuristic nature of the pose, where, after closer inspection, we see him staring back at us through the mirror, watching us all along.

“I wanted to revel in the Baroque composition and paint handling, using the portrait as a vehicle to reimagine Velázquez’s image of ideal feminine beauty through a very different lens.”


(NSFW) See the full portrait here


Artist’s Courtney Act portrait Archibald Prize finalist

Also among the finalists is a portrait of Shane Jenek, also known as Australian drag superstar Courtney Act.

Sydney-based artist Kim Leutwyler’s portrait shows the drag performer’s dual personas side-by-side.

Leutwyler said openly and unapologetically themselves at all times.

“I have always been drawn to Courtney’s vibrancy, fearlessness and talent,” the six-time Archibald finalist said.

“She negotiates the boundaries of gender and sexuality both in and out of drag.

“We discussed life, love, gender expression and the many permutations of queerness we’ve experienced while living and travelling overseas.

“It’s a beautiful thing to meet someone and feel so instantly connected and comfortable in their presence.”

In the artwork, Leutwyler “blended realism and abstraction as a subtle vernacular to portray the fluidity and complexities of identity and sexuality.”

Taiki Waititi portrait wins Packing Room Prize

This week, Claus Stangl’s portrait of Taika Waititi (pictured below) also won the Packing Room Prize.

The early prize is picked by the Art Gallery of NSW staff who unpack and hang the entries.

See all the finalists at the Art Gallery of NSW’s website or on show at the gallery in Sydney from May 14.

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