“Preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia.”

Florence Rodway – Jules François Archibald, 1921 – Art Gallery of New South Wales.

The Archibald Prize is Australia’s most highly regarded art prize for portraiture – Value $100,000. Named after John Feltham Archibald (1856 – 1919) from Warrnambool, Victoria. He later changed his name to Jules Francois which reflected his move to a more bohemian lifestyle; working as a journalist and living a life at street cafes, boarding houses and theatres in Melbourne. In 1880 he founded The Bulletin magazine which addressed issues in the public consciousness. In 1900 he commissioned Melbourne portrait artist, John Longstaff to paint a portrait of Australia’s iconic author Henry Lawson. Following the success of this portrait he left money in his will for an annual portrait prize – first awarded in 1921.

Shaver III – Self-portrait pushing 60.
Otomys Artist Hugh Ramage’s Archibald Entrant for 2018.

“This painting is one of several ‘Shaver’ paintings that I worked on in March. These paintings emerged from the desire to get back to an essential possibly universal subject matter. Something as basic as contemplating one’s own reflection. Something very ordinary and everyday. Like shaving. They were also informed by my approaching 60th birthday (feelings of disbelief and something akin to dread) and the deaths of a number of acquaintances recently. So, they are inevitably a kind of memento mori. Shaver III in a way is a reverse portrait .The razor is held in the left hand (I am right handed) so it could be seen as existing in the world beyond the mirror, the private world of feeling and emotion, below the surface, not revealed. The right hand is holding something ill defined, a box, a phone, life sustaining illusion perhaps. The surface pools and slides and slips and is covered with footprints, essentially unstable like the self. It is a wild painting and a sincere painting. It is also ridiculously large and bleakly hilarious. As such it lacks pretty much every ingredient that makes for a successful Archibald contender.”

View Hugh Ramage’s new Portrait Series in the Otomys Gallery.

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