Archibald Portrait of Michael Caton – AGNSW People’s Choice

Catoon Portrait

Bruno Jean Grasswill “Michael Caton”, oil, 177.8 x 121.7 cm. Photo: courtesy Art Gallery of NSW-Felicity Jenkins

Winning the prestigious Art Gallery of NSW Packing Room Prize is much valued today by artists who enter the Archibald Prize in Australia.

However to win the double of the Packing Room Prize and the People’s Choice Award in one year as artist Bruno Jean Grasswill has done, is a huge bonus for the artist and his future.

Mark Whelan, Chief Executive Officer, ANZ Australia, principal sponsor of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, congratulated Bruno Jean Grasswill on winning the People’s Choice award.

It’s a significant achievement to have been nominated as the favourite piece of work of those who have attended the exhibition over the past few months. It’s a worthy winner and I encourage everyone to go and see it for themselves before the exhibition closes on September 27,” Whelan said.

It is only the third time in Archibald Prize history that it has happened.

So what is the test of a great portrait?

Is it not empathy, the power of the artist to enter into the sitter’s emotions and convey these feelings to another – to make him also experience empathy?

Not taking anything away from the artist’s ability, it is no doubt Television Film and Stage actor and television host Michael Caton the subject for the portrait by Grasswill has had a lot to do with the artist’s success as so many empathize with him.

Two Men

Artist Bruno Jean Grasswill left with actor Michael Caton right, courtesy Art Gallery of NSW

Caton is so well loved in Australia.

Congratulating Grasswill on his win, Art Gallery of New South Wales Director Michael Brand noted that the painting had clearly struck a chord, from packing room staff right through to the gallery-going public.

Michael Caton is a much-loved Australian and his portrait is the kind of work the Archibald Prize is all about,” Brand said. “The Prize is a lively celebration of people in the public eye and the People’s Choice award recognises the favourite faces our visitors have enjoyed,” Brand added.

Of my own ‘lost’ generation the subject of Grasswill’s winning portrait Michael Caton has endeared himself to families of Australians for years as a star of stage, television and movies.

He came to attention first during the early Australian Television Series The Sullivans (1976-77), Five Mile Creek (1985-1988), All Saints (1998) and more recently the six hugely successful seasons of Packed to the Rafters (2008 – 2013) to name but a few.

He was briefly Bob the quintessential Aussie in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and the type of Dad everyone wanted to have as Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle, a low budget film that has become over the  years since it was made in 1997, a true icon of Australian film art.

Each year one person who voted for the People’s Choice award-winning painting is selected at random to win a People’s Choice voters’ prize.

Portrait 1

French born Sydney based artist Bruno Jean Graswill with the subect of his Archibald Prize entry Michael Caton, photo by Brendan Esposito

In 2015, the lucky voter Christine Power said “The portrait highlights the true larrikin character…and… his thoughtful and enduring side seems to speak to you …it certainly has done justice to a great Australian actor,” Power said.

Inducted into the Australian Film Walk of Fame in honour of his body of work for our performance art industry, and a cultural ambassador par excellence, today Michael Caton’s latest movie The Last Cab to Darwin offers a combination of heart and humour with drama and pathos in a story for our age.

A man making a journey into his past as he faces an uncertain future.

The artist Bruno Jean Grasswill came to Australia in 1971 from France.

He has since worked professionally in visual arts disciplines such as photography, commercial art, illustration, computerised art, art direction and fine arts.

Caton & Artist

Bruno Jean Grasswill pictured in front of his portrait of actor Michael Caton which won the Packing Room Prize. Photo Brendan Esposito

He has been entering the Archibald Prize regularly since moving to Australia and has had two portraits hung in the Salon des Refusés exhibition previously.

In the main he produces images, for the most part, that are created to explore the nature of human relationships.

His portrait of Caton completed on his 69th birthday this year strips away any excess ornament and reveals the actor’s true self.

The laughter lines like great rivers surrounding his eyes highlight the window to his soul beneath.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015

Archibald People’s Choice Award
Archibald Prize 2015,
Art Gallery of NSW

2015 Archibald Prize touring exhibition details:

2 October 2015 – 15 November 2015 Art Gallery of Ballarat
20 November 2015 – 10 January 2016 New England Regional Art Museum
15 January 2016 – 28 February 2016 Tweed River Art Gallery
5 March 2016 – 17 April 2016 Manning Regional Art Gallery
23 April 2016 – 5 June 2016 Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery
11 June 2016 – 24 July 2016 Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

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