There Is No God

Stuff Mar 02, 2007 No Comments

Got any fennel?

Sydney artist John Beard has won the 2007 Archibald Prize for his painting of Janet Laurence. The Archibald Prize is now in its 86th year. John receives a prize of $35,000

Janet Laurence is an installation artist whose work extends from the gallery into urban spaces. A former AGNSW trustee, she has undertaken numerous public commissions. Her work is held in public and private collections in Australia and internationally.

It has been said that Laurence’s work echoes architecture and yet retains a sense of the instability and transience found in nature; John Beard’s monochromatic portraits of fellow artists share similar qualities. While painting the structure, or architecture, of his friends’ heads and faces, he also aims to capture the sense of fleeting, ever-changing expression.

From this collaboration of artist and artist-as-subject, a kind of double portraiture emerges. If a viewer knows the work of the artist portrayed, another visual layer resonates. Without the use of colour – that might highlight the differences or similarities between his subjects – Beard focuses the viewer’s attention not just on the individual sitter but on the structure of the painting itself. Light plays an important role in the visual dynamic of the image as we literally move around these sculptural works to fully appreciate their form and making.

Born in Wales in 1943, John Beard has been represented in group and solo shows at galleries including the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery in Canberra, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, and in London at the Tate, Whitechapel Gallery, Royal Academy, Science Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Most recently Beard held a solo exhibition at The Gulbenkian’s Centro De Art Moderna in Lisbon.

Andrew Frost

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