Doug Moran prize 2019: mysterious artist ‘What’ wins $150,000 for Robert Forster portrait | Awards and prizes


The artist generally known as “What” was not ready to be awarded Australia’s richest artwork prize.

When his grammatically confounding identify was known as – it isn’t actually a pseudonym, as his companion, his mates and even his dad and mom name him “What” – the artist appeared surprised. An area opened up round him. Digital camera shutters snapped wildly. His companion, who had accompanied him to the occasion, burst into tears.

What, who’s supremely troublesome to Google, has beforehand been a finalist within the Wynne, Sulman and Doug Moran prizes. His portray of Go-Betweens frontman Robert Forster was chosen from almost 1,000 entrants and awarded the $150,000 Doug Moran portrait prize at Juniper Corridor in Sydney on Wednesday morning.

“That’s extremely surprising,” stated the artist when his win was introduced. “That may be a life altering sum [of money].”

“That is the third time I’ve painted Robert,” he stated. “Robert was so necessary to me as a child artist in Australia. Nice music. Sporting lipstick, sporting clothes.”

The Doug Moran prize is awarded to an unique work from an Australian artist of an Australian topic, painted a minimum of partly from life. This yr the judging panel was comprised of artist and 2013 prize-winner Nigel Milsom; Kelly Gellatly, director of the Ian Potter Museum of Artwork on the College of Melbourne; and Peter Moran, whose dad and mom Greta and Doug Moran established the Moran Arts Basis in 1988.

What’s portray, a multicoloured work shimmering with a synaesthetic sensibility, reveals Forster floating, vibrant and kaleidoscopic, amid a white house.

His depiction of Forster was described by the judges as “[embodying] the limitless prospects of portraiture and portray”.

“[It] is intriguing for its lack of stable kind, and for the best way by which the topic hovers on the canvas like a vibrating aura,” wrote Gellatly and Milsom. “He is sort of a technicolour apparition; neither concrete form nor precise likeness.”

‘Like a technicolour apparition’: a painting of Robert Forster by the artist What.
‘Like a technicolour apparition’: a portray of Robert Forster by the artist What. : what

The artist notes that accompany the paintings learn: “I picked Robert up in my SAAB 900. He understood the automotive, I made him a pour over espresso. Robert performed my live performance classical guitar, out of tune. He liked the tuning. He was fascinated with the guitar. And the espresso. And the SAAB. I put the comb down once I noticed Robert in tune.”

This isn’t What’s first portrait of Forster: the artist was a finalist within the 2017 Archibald prize for an additional.

“Taking a look at Robert Forster I see / Six-foot-three of absorbency /Electrical literary guitar / Pink-hot Brisbane bricks / And French ultramarine stovepipes / Shaping rhythmic legs,” the outline for that work learn.

“I’m truly a musician as effectively, I’m a classical guitarist,” What informed Guardian Australia. “However again once I was a youngster I used to be into rock and roll.”

Forster was doing in Australia within the 70s and 80s what the artist liked in bands just like the Smiths and the Treatment within the UK.

“I’ve adopted his profession ever since and he’s simply such an excellent particular person to color. So tall, lovely and a gentleman,” the artist stated. “I believe that image has a way of pleasure.”

In particular person, What was a tall, slender determine in RM Williams boots, and an unassuming gray linen jacket over a fuchsia shirt, hiding an infectious chortle and charming smile beneath a bushy gray beard.

A practising artist for 30 years, he refused to disclose his authorized identify, saying his nom-de-plume has “a sure thriller to it which I like to keep up”.

“There’s not sufficient mysteries on the earth. I’m not on Instagram, I wish to preserve a reasonably low profile, and don’t like to inform the world all the things that I’m doing and considering. That’s what my portray is for,” he stated.

Artwork by What options in a variety of public collections, together with the Artwork Gallery of New South Wales and Nationwide Gallery of Australia. events can hunt down details about his work and forthcoming exhibitions at Blockprojects gallery in Melbourne, by whom he’s represented.

Finalists on this yr’s Doug Moran prize embody a swathe of rising artists, who’re overtly inspired to enter, alongside established practitioners resembling Yvette Coppersmith, Anthony Lister, Rodney Pople and Michael Zavros. Every of the finalists will obtain $1,000.

Sitters embody odd members of the general public in addition to these with a public profile. Portraits of actor Barry Otto, Sigrid Thornton and Noah Taylor, and the late former prime minister Bob Hawke, had been amongst these shortlisted this yr.

All 30 finalists of the Doug Moran, together with the winner, will likely be on show to the public for free in Juniper Hall’s Georgian-era surrounds from Friday.



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