Julia Gutman wins 2023 Archibald Prize


Congratulations to Julia Gutman who has won the 2023 Archibald Prize for her portrait of singer-songwriter Montaigne.

Titled Head in the sky feet on the ground, the award sees Gutman take home $100,000 in Australia’s most prestigious and popular art award. The win makes Gutman, age 29, one of the youngest winners in the award’s history, and the 11th woman to win.

“I’m so elated and overwhelmed to have won. Shocked, dumbfounded, but very happy. It’s honestly completely surreal. I’m so grateful to be working at a time when young female voices are heard,” says Gutman. “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.”

Of her relationship with her sitter, Gutman says, “Montaigne and I have been friends for a few years and there is a 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.”

Gutman is a multi-disciplinary artist who reuses found textiles to produce painted ‘patchworks’ that merge personal and collective histories to explore themes of femininity, intimacy and memory. And Montaigne is a Sydney-based singer who represented Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, and in 2016 won an ARIA award for Best Breakthrough Artist.

Gutman’s award-winning work came from 949 entries, the second highest number of entries yet. For the first time ever, there are more works by women (30) than men (27) in the Archibald finalists. And across the three competitions—Archibald, Wynne and Sulman—the number of entries (101) and finalist works (38) by Aboriginal artists reached a new high.

As for the winners of the Wynne and Sulman prizes: Doris Bush Nungarrayi has won the Sulman with her work Mamunya ngalyananyi (Monster coming), taking home a $40,000 prize. The artist practices from Papunya Tjupi art centre in Papunya, located northwest of Alice Springs, and paints vivid memories, stories and dreams from her life.

The artwork statement says, “In this painting, Nungarrayi depicts several Mamus, or ‘cheeky ones’, as she refers to them. However, they are not to be taken lightly as they are ominous and malevolent spirits that terrify Aṉangu. They are typically seen to have large haunting eyes, straight hair standing upright, and can shapeshift into many different forms, including the human figure. The mamu usually hide in underground dwellings or inside hollow trees.”

And the winner of the 2023 Wynne Prize is Zaachariaha Fielding for Inma. Fielding won the $50,000 award for his painting which depicts the sounds of Mimili, a small community in the eastern part of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia. Fielding was thrilled with the win: “I feel like dancing right now. The work is music, and I am music. My work is a celebration and is a song in itself and the sound comes from my community.”

All of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman award-winning and finalist works are now showing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. After this showing, the 2023 Archibald will tour to six venues in Victoria and regional New South Wales, joined by the Wynne Prize.

2023 Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize Exhibition
Art Gallery of New South Wales
6 May – 3 September

News Words by Art Guide Australia