Mitch Cairns Agathe Goethe Snape Archibald Gallery NSW

The winner of the Archibald has been announced and you’ll love it

As an artist, it’s one of the most coveted prizes available: The Archibald Prize is awarded each year to an artist who creates the best portrait, ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.

It’s something that many receive and scores more never do, but that doesn’t stop them from trying year-after-year.

Good thing for Mitch Cairns – a four-time Archibald prize finalist – persistence pays off because it is he who has taken the coveted award for his work, hanging in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, ‘Agatha Goethe-Snape’.

It’s a portrait with a stunningly economical use of line and palette, says Art Gallery of New South Wales curator of Australian art, Anne Ryan, and one that truly gets to the heart of the domestic personal life of the artist, Cairns, and the subject who is also his partner, Goethe-Snape.

“I composed this portrait with love. Agatha and I share everything in our lives; our two-year-old son; our work as artists and our day-to-day lives,” Cairns said.

“Initially I made loose drawings of Agatha, just in the flow. It’s a domestic scene. When you have a young child there’s a lot of creative play happening on the floor.

“In this portrait Agatha’s in an ‘uncomfortably comfortable’ pose; legs crossed, head turned, on our rumpled rug.”

When you consider the work an artist must go through in order to attain the accolade, the Archibald becomes something more of a stunning win than first perceived.

The 2017 Archibald Prize had 822 entries this year from which 43 finalist portraits were selected. Of the 43 finalist portraits almost half chose artists as sitters, with 19 of them depicting artists including a double portrait of another artist couple, James Drinkwater and Lottie Consalvo.

Take your hat off to the artist and the whole movement and go and see the full work on display at the Gallery of New South Wales until 22 October, Art Gallery Rd, The Domain, Sydney, Australia.

See more at the Gallery’s website.

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