Every picture tells a story. Cultural treasure and iconic Aussie actor Hugo Weaving has his own style, which has been perfectly captured by artist Del Kathryn Barton in watercolour, gouache and acrylic on canvas to win the Art Gallery of NSW Archibald Prize 2013. 39 finalists (selected from a total of 860 entries) made up the final group considered and it was Del Kathryn Barton’s second Archibald win, the first being in 2008.
It’s a great portrait, the Archibald Prize being Australia’s favourite art award and certainly its most prestigious. Barton combines a myriad of techniques and style references to provide a ‘vibrant, figurative’ image of this popular local hero. Her image of Hugo Weaving continues the success that artists are having painting celebrities who are popular with the public. Barton has featured highly in the Archibald Prize since she first entered it and was also a finalist in 2007 and 2011. She is represented by the Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne, Australia and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, Australia.
Hugo Weaving has played the hero, the anti-hero, the reluctant hero and is an active animal rights ambassador. He’s also one of the busiest of all our actors, moving from film to television to theatre without seemingly any effort at all, despite them being very different mediums. He is the penultimate professional.
The artist when talking about her award winning work said she ‘hoped to portray a sincere, deep, generous and creative soul’. As we observe her work we would have to say she has succeeded, presenting Hugo so that he is instantly recognisable with his high forehead and trademark eyebrows surrounded by symbols that mark his journey in life.
While many of us will recognise Weaving from his early successes, especially in the 1984 television series Bodyline, younger generations will recognise Elrond, from Director Peter Jackson’s three film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
Weaving has garnered both international and local attention in his career, especially when he featured in the Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp playing the drag Queen Mitzi Del Bra.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes is an annual exhibition eagerly anticipated by artists and audiences alike. While the Archibald is about portraiture, the Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, or figure sculpture, while the Sulman Prize is given to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.
Would be great to see this image of Hugo Weaving end up in the National Portrait Gallery at Canberra.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2013