Famous artist Dhungatti Blak Douglas – born Adam Douglas Hill – won the 2022 Archibald Prize, for his portrait of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, titled Moby Dickens.
It is the second time an Indigenous Australian has won the award in 101 years, following Vincent Namatjira in 2020.
Dickens, who is based in Bundjalung country in Lismore, is painted holding buckets while standing ankle-deep in flood waters. The 14 flat-bottomed clouds behind her represent the number of days and nights the first flood lasted in Lismore. Measuring 3m by 2m, it is the largest painting presented at the Archibald exhibition.
Douglas, who was a seven-time Archibald finalist, won the $100,000 prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Friday: “First Nations artists are getting a rough ride,” he said in his speech. “For me it’s time, for us it’s time.”
“Karla is my favorite First Nations female artist, we are dear friends, we are birds of a feather when it comes to our feeling in art, and I really admire the way she puts her work together “, he said in a statement.
“I was there in Lismore immediately after the first flood…and saw the shock and horror on people’s faces. Karla had just reached a turning point in her career and almost immediately the flood disaster struck. So when she should normally have been excited about the direction of her career, she was harboring three families in Lismore as part of her own rescue mission.
Jude Rae has been highly praised for her portrayal of inventor and engineer Dr. Saul Griffith.
Nicholas Harding won the $50,000 Wynne Prize for Australian Landscape Painting or Figurative Sculpture, with his oil on linen Eora. Harding has been a nine-time Wynne finalist – and is a 19-time Archibald Award finalist. Both Juz Kitson and Lucy Culliton received high praise for the Wynne.
The $40,000 Sulman Prize for Best Subject Painting, Genre Painting, or Mural Project in Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, or Mixed Media, was won by Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro for Raikō and Shuten-dōji, a rendering of the fight between the warrior Raikō and the demon Shuten-dōji, painted on the fuselage of a Vietnam War helicopter.
On May 5, Sydney-based artist Claus Stangl won the Archibald Wrapping Room Award – judged by those who unwrap and hang portraits – for his 3D portrait of New Zealand director, writer and actor Taika Waititi.
It was the final choice of head packer Brett Cuthbertson, who is retiring after 41 years with the gallery.
Waititi’s portrait is among 52 hanging in this year’s exhibition, including paintings by Helen Garner, Benjamin Law, Peter Garrett and Courtney Act; they were chosen from a selection of over 800 entries, in a prize judged by the administrators of the art gallery.
Twenty Indigenous artists participated in the Archibald Prize – a record for the prize – and there were 27 Indigenous finalists among the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.
This year’s finalist Archibald exhibition also includes five vibrant works from Studio A: a collective of mentally disabled artists from Sydney who have enjoyed their most successful year to date.
Finalists for all three awards will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from May 14 to August 28, 2022.