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NSW-based artist and theatre designer Antoinette Barbouttis has won the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture with a large charcoal drawing. Titled Alexandra, the winning work is a life-sized portrait of her friend the Greek film-maker Alexandra Liveris. In addition to the $50,000 Lester Group Prize, Barbouttis has received tickets from Singapore Airlines valued at $3,500.

This year the prize was judged by curator at the National Portrait Gallery Joanna Gilmore, artist Mathew Lynn, and Dr Stefano Carboni who is director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), where the prize is held.

The judges said in a joint statement, “On close looking, we were struck by the artist’s consummate handling of the medium, and the skill with which she has pushed the possibilities of charcoal without losing its qualities and its capacity for nuance of texture and tone.”

In her artist’s statement Barbouttis said of her winning work, “Alexandra and I both come from the Greek island of Castellorizo, and we discovered we were fourth cousins twice removed. In the past few years I have taken solace in my female contemporaries and she is one of them. My artistic approach is personal, connected, and sustained—elements that I find complement our friendship.”

Benjamin Aitken won the $10,000 Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize with his painting titled Jack, and works by both Ruth Leigh and Peter Wegner were highly commended.

Works by all 40 finalists in the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture are on show at the AGWA until 26 November. Visitors to the exhibition can vote for the Baldock Family People’s Choice Award.

Black Swan Prize for Portraiture Exhibition
Art Gallery of Western Australia
27 October – 26 November

Art Guide Australia