Archibald #1: Evert Ploeg, Smart Guy

Art Life , Reviews Mar 23, 2004 No Comments

We wondered last week why media coverage of an artist’s entry into The Archibald Prize meant that there was then no chance of that artist winning. It’s The Curse of The Media. We also speculated that Evert Ploeg might not even get his portrait of Jana Wendt into the hang since it had arrived at the last minute still wet.

Well, it turns out that Ploeg had anticipated just such an objection and cannily framed his oil painting behind glass. Smart man. Sadly he still wasn’t chosen as a finalist as he fell afoul of that other great Archibald Curse known as The Packing Room Prize, the ‘award’ given out by the fellas at the AGNSW’s loading dock who have to unpack the arrivals. As the press release from the Art Gallery of NSW explained:

”Evert has been a regular entrant in the Archibald prize. His first entry (1997), Bananas in Pyjamas, caused a huge stir. Other subjects include Para Olympian Louise Sauvage, singer Ben Lee, fashion identity Peter Morrissey and actor Richard Roxburgh. In 1999 Evert won the People’s Choice award in both Sydney and Melbourne with his portrait of actress Deborah Mailman

“This is the Gallery’s head storeman Steve Peters 20th Archibald Prize. He has seen it all and maintains that he can select a winner in 30 seconds. Steve controls 51% of the vote. Open to bribery and corruption, he says on both counts he is still waiting. This is the Prize the artists love and dread – never has the Packing Room Prize coincided with the judges decision!”

If Ploeg can just beat the Packing Room hoodoo and maybe punt for the most popular vote again, it might take the sting out of the fact he gets a measly $500 for his efforts. The frame probably cost more than that.

Andrew Frost

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