Mosman Art Gallery congratulates Mosman Art Prize winner David Fairbairn
David Fairbairn, Winner 2012 Mosman Art Prize, Seated Figure J.B. with orange ground (detail)
Mosman Art Prize judge Anne Flanagan, the Deputy Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales has chosen renowned artist David Fairbairn as the winner of the 65th Mosman Art Prize.
The prize was awarded tonight in front of a crowd of participating artists, their friends and family and the many others who were interested in the prize outcome.
Also awarded were 27 year old Clara Adolphs who received the Fourth Village Providore Young Emerging Artist Award of $2,000, Jerzy Michalski for the Allan Gamble Memorial Art Prize – an award dedicated to paintings of the built environment – and 1990 Mosman Art Prize winner John Bartley who received the Henry Bucks Commendation Prize of $5,000.
by Anne Flanagan
Deputy Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Mosman Art Prize has a long and cherished history – this year is the 65th anniversary of the Prize. Winning the Mosman Art Prize immediately places the artist within a history of Australian painting. Prize money matters but becoming the recipient of the Prize honours the artist. Most importantly the Prize is acquisitive – the selected work becomes part of the Mosman Art Gallery collection.
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to judge the 65th Mosman Art Prize. This year 660 paintings were delivered to the Gallery to be judged. It was exhilarating to see, in one day, the extraordinary sweep of artistic activity and feel the pulse of contemporary studio painting today.
Prizes have such a fascinating place in Australian art and Mosman Art Prize is no exception. The Mosman Art Prize is about painting. That might seem obvious – as it would have been to Lloyd Rees in 1947 – but in today’s world of multi media it is actually a contentious question as to what is a painting.
And what were the trends? Abstraction and figuration looms large on our artistic horizons no more so than in the 2012 Mosman Art Prize. There were landscapes rendered with alarming accuracy and others with disarming moodiness; there were many abstract works; there were humorous, quirky works that made one laugh and want to know more; there were personal stories where the artist’s narrative was laid bare with such honesty it drew my breath; there were animals and birds that crept into or flew across the canvas with such technical skill; there were few portraits but they were good; there were smooth, beautifully rendered still life paintings and there were conceptually engaging works that forced you to stop still and engage more slowly more thoughtfully; and there were urban scenes filled with visual accuracy but others redolent with memory or absence or wonder.
The 2012 winner of the Mosman Art Prize is David Fairburn for his work Seated figure J.B.with orange ground. David Fairburn is a highly respected artist who pursues the act of painting with such remarkable intensity. He invests his paintings with energy, such raw energy that they seem to vibrate off the wall. Seated figure J.B. with orange ground is a powerful work where the line never seems to leave the paper until it has captured some intimate current between the artist and the sitter. David has worked on a series of portraits of artist James Barker over a long time and this painting is charged with intense intimacy. Framed by the architecture of the room the edgy portrait of J.B. hovers in the lower right of the painting and is mapped with a frenzy of lines. The inherent energy in this work comes from capturing the unique qualities of the sitter. In this portrait the very intensity of paint reveals a stillness in the sitter – it is a quiet, reflective image of a fellow artist. This is a remarkable portrait for the Mosman Gallery collection.
The 2012 winner of the Young Emerging Artist’s Award is Clara Adolphus for her work New tricks. This large painting with thick impasto paint captures a woman’s head using quickly applied layers of blue and grey paint. The blue paint is tantalizing and the profile is rendered with alarming simplicity. As you get close to the work the head dissolves but from a distance the profile emanates tenderness.
Many works were submitted within the emerging category that is for artists under 35. Painting has had a renaissance – younger artist like to paint and this Prize provides the opportunity to see their work.
The Commendation Prize goes to John Bartley for Sirens song. This large horizontal painting uses multiple paint layers that drift and then coalesce across the surface of the canvas. It is a painting that understands and plays with the fluidity of paint.
The winner of the Allan Gamble Memorial Art Prize for the theme of the built environment is Jerczy Michalski for Time – study. A lonely figure sits in an all too familiar transit space brilliantly lit with coloured panels. Here the figure is alone facing an indeterminate passage of time in a space designed to be animated by the flux of commuters. It is seductively painted to lure us into its emptiness, its formalism leaving us silent.
I thank all the artists for making the Mosman Art Prize so exciting, so relevant and so energetic. I thank the Mosman Gallery staff for making the Prize happen with such professionalism and care particularly John Cheeseman, Katrina Cashman and Julie Petersen and, the art handlers who took as much delight as I did in seeing the works. There was a little magic as the paintings were turned around to reveal the image – you never knew what the work would be and we all shared that moment.