Sydney artist Tony Costa has won the Archibald Prize for 2019, picking up the $100,000 prize for his painting of fellow artist Lindy Lee. The painting shows Brisbane-born Lee – whose paintings explore her Chinese ancestry, life in Australia and Buddhist faith – sitting in a pensive pose.
Costa, who was a finalist in 2015, 2017 and 2018, won from the 51 finalists for 2019, whose subjects range from actors to journalists and sportspeople. And Costa is very much on trend: most of the paintings are of artists, with 11 self portraits and 17 paintings of other artists.
Costa says he was drawn to painting Lee after he heard her speak at the Art Gallery of NSW.
"I was attracted to her wisdom, humility, courage, humour and, above all, her deep focus regarding her art practice," he said.
The judges also awarded a highly commended to Jude Rae for her portrait of actor Sarah Peirse in costume as Miss Docker in Sydney Theatre Company's production of A Cheery Soul.
Our other Archie favourites this year are Vincent Namatjira's portrait of artist Tony Albert, Jessica Ashton's portrait of Akira Isogawa, and Angus McDonald's portrait of lawyer and writer Mariam Veiszadeh, which references Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'.
The Archibald Prize has been awarded almost every year since it started in 1921, and the winner is picked by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. It's for the best portrait of a notable Australian painted by an artist living in Australia.
The winners of the Wynne and Sulman Prizes, which are shown in the same exhibition alongside the Archies, were also revealed. Sylvia Ken picked up the Wynne for her painting 'Seven Sisters', while McLean Edwards won the Sulman for 'The first girl that knocked on his door'.
The Archibald Prize finalists exhibition is at the Art Gallery of NSW from May 11 to September 8.