A stunning portrait of 100-year-old artist Guy Warren, painted by Peter Wegner, has been crowned the winner of the 2021 Archibald prize.
The prestigious award was unanimously decided by the judges, all of whom agreed the artwork was “brilliant”.
Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand made the announcement on June 4, 2021, noting that the subject of the winning painting was the same age as the award it was being honoured with and saying he hoped to look as content as Warren at that age.
Wegner, who has been an Archibald finalist five times, said that Warren and the award both being 100 had had no influence on his decision to paint the Sydney-based artist.
“Guy Warren turned 100 in April — he was born the same year the Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921,” Wegner said via video link from Melbourne. “This is not why I painted Guy, but the coincidence is nicely timed.”
Meanwhile, Warren — who won the Archibald himself in 1985 — called his likeness “a bloody good painting” and praised Wegner for his “enormous amount of talent”.
“It’s in the full tradition of good portrait painting and that tradition goes back a hell of a long way,” Warren said in response to the win. “Secondly, it is a very good likeness. And thirdly, I’m told, it says something about my character, but I’m not the one to be the judge of that, I don’t know.”
Wegner’s creation was one of 52 finalists in the annual prize — out of a massive 938 entries. Submissions included portraits of sexual assault survivor and activist Grace Tame as well as Indigenous Australian artist Blak Douglas and singer Kate Ceberano. Kirsty Neilson’s portrait of Ceberano won the Packing Room prize which is selected by Art Gallery of NSW staff.
Additionally, Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu won the Wynne prize for landscape painting with her submission, Garak – Night Sky, which depicts the journey of Djulpan, or the Seven Sisters star clusters.
In a statement, Yunupiŋu said she “shares this prize with my seven sisters, some of whom have passed away”.
The recipient of the Sulman prize for subject painting was Tasmania-based artist Georgia Spain, with her work: Getting Down or Falling Up which she said: “explores the idea of physical tension and connection captured in moments of conflict or pleasure”.
The Archibald, Sulman and Wynne finalists can now be viewed at the Art Gallery of NSW.