Pop star portrait takes home top prize

32nd Annual ARIA Awards 2018 - Arrivals
A portrait of Australian singer-songwriter Montaigne has won the 2023 Archibald Prize. Picture: Ryan Pierse/ Getty Images

Julia Gutman’s stylised portrait of Australian popster Montaigne has taken out the 2023 Archibald Prize.

The work, titled Head in the sky, feet on the ground, makes the 29-year-old the second youngest winner in the prestigious art award’s 102-year history.

Montaigne is also the first female musician to feature as a subject in a winning Archibald entry, with Ms Gutman only the 11th woman to have won the $100,000 portrait prize.

South Australian Nora Heysen, who won it in 1938 with a portrait of Mme Elink Schuurman, remains the youngest ever winner. She was 28 at the time.

The Sydney artist said she was “elated and overwhelmed” to have taken home the top prize.

“Shocked, dumbfounded, but very happy,” she said.

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‘Head in the sky, feet on the ground’ by Julia Gutman won the 2023 Archibald Prize. Picture: Art Gallery of New South Wales

“It’s honestly completely surreal. I’m so grateful to be working at a time when young female voices are heard.

“So much of my practice is devoted to revisiting, critiquing and contending with the histories housed in institutions. It’s so affirming for that conversation to be recognised in such a public way.”

The Sydney artist said she’s been friends with Montaigne – real name Jessica Alyssa Cerro – “for a few years” and said there was “lot of alignment in our practices”.

“We are both interested in creating our own forms and approaches rather than strictly adhering to any one tradition,” she said.

“Montaigne’s work defies genres, while her mercurial soprano has become an indelible part of the fabric of Australian music.”

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Singer Montaigne performing in 2020. Picture: Cole Bennetts/ Getty Images

Selected as the winner from 949 entries and 57 finalists, Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand described the portrait as a “remarkable tender portrait of a young musician who is making her way in a tough business”.

“We see an intimacy and vulnerability that is truly compelling,” he said.

The Wynne Prize landscape prize and the Sulman Prize for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist have also been announced.

Doris Bush Nungarrayi was awarded the $40,000 Sulman Prize for her piece Mamunya ngalyananyi (Monster coming).

Doris Bush Nungarrayi Mamunya ngalyananyi (monster coming)
Doris Bush Nungarrayi Mamunya ngalyananyi (Monster coming) was selected as the winner of the Wynne Prize. Picture: Art Gallery of NSW
2023 Packing Room Prize Winner And Archibald Finalists Announced
Andrea Huelin and Cal Wilson pose with the Packing Room Prize winner, ‘Clown Jewels’. Picture: Don Arnold/ WireImage/ Getty
‘Inma’ by Zaachariaha Fielding. Picture: Art Gallery of NSW

The $50,000 Wynn prize was awarded to Zaachariaha Fielding, who is also one-half of techno pop group Electric Fields, for his painting Inma.

He secured the top spot with ‘Inma,’ a painting of “the sounds of Mimili”, a small community in the eastern part of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia.

The 2023 Packing Room Prize – which is picked by staff who receive and unpack the entries – was awarded to Andrea Huelin’s portrait of comedian and former Spicks and specks host, Cal Wilson, titled Clown Jewels.