Peter Wegner wins 100th Archibald Prize with portrait of centenarian

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Peter Wegner has won the Archibald Prize for portraiture in its centenary year with his Portrait of Guy Warren at 100.

The Melbourne-based artist said via video link, “I’d really like to thank Guy Warren for his generosity of spirit. Guy is one of the liveliest 100-year-olds I’ve met. And Wegner has met more than his fair share, having painted some 90 centenarians during a seven-year-long project he has been working on.

Guy Warren, who was present at the prize announcement, said “It has been an extraordinary year, four or five people painted me for this Archibald.”

But Warren conceded that only one could win and said he was very happy that Wegner did. “It’s a good painting. It looks like me,” he said. Then, laughing, he added “I think I’m getting about as much pleasure out of this as if I’d won the damn thing myself!”

The Archibald is judged by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) board of trustees, and president of the AGNSW trust David Gonski admitted that making a decision was complex this year. “The quality was high and opinions were strong,” he said.

The decision to award the Archibald Prize to Wegner was unanimous, Gonski pointed out. But the trustees, which include well known artists Ben Quilty and Tony Albert, elected to highly commend portraits by Jude Rae and Pat Hoffie as well.

The Wynne Prize for landscape painting or figure sculpture, which is also judged by the AGNSW trustees, was awarded to Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu for her painting, Garak – night sky.

Through a video link a spokesperson for the artist said that the painting depicts “trekking the land on which all her sisters and family go hunting for food.” She also explained that “every stroke [on the paining] is special, and from each stroke grows something special.”

Entries in the Wynne Prize are also eligible for the following prizes: The Trustees’ Watercolour Prize, which was won by Noel McKenna; the John and Elizabeth Newnham Pring Memorial Prize, which was won by Leah Bullen; and The Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize, which was won by Tjungkara Ken.

The 2021 Sulman Prize for subject, genre or mural painting was judged by artist Elisabeth Cummings. She selected Georgia Spain’s painting of a group of figures titled, Getting down or falling up. Spain said when accepting the award, “It’s really exciting to be hanging on these walls with so many artists I admire.”

Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2021
Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)
5 June – 26 September

Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize
Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)
5 June – 26 September

Tracey Clement