Richard Lewer wins the 2020 Paul Guest Prize

Art Almanac congratulates Richard Lewer; winner of the 2020 Paul Guest Prize for Drawing with his charcoal drawing, 2020 – created in response to the human impact of the Black Summer bushfires and all that followed.

Guest judge Leslie Harding, Artistic Director of Heide Museum of Modern Art, said Lewer’s work serves both as a snapshot and a summary of the year’s redirection.

‘The masked figures are silenced, motionless, and yet simmering with a palpable anxiety that is intensified by the field of thousands of lines that give the picture its dissident energy. This is a powerful drawing loaded with portent and very much of its times; part observation and large part pithy and incisive social commentary,’ she said.

Richard Lewer, 2020, 2020, charcoal on museum rag board. Courtesy the artist and sullivan+strumpf, Sydney

Lewer, on his winning work: ‘There were so many horrific images in the media depicting the personal, community and environmental losses you couldn’t help but be impacted by the enormity even safely far away in the city. I felt the need to visit some of these communities in East Gippsland, Victoria in the aftermath of the fires to grasp the sobering reality of confronting disaster and loss. This drawing depicts people in an urban setting wearing face masks, cities beset by smoke pollution and ash, soon to be plagued by the outbreak of COVID-19.’

The biennial Paul Guest Prize is an award and exhibition highlights contemporary drawing practice in Australia. The Prize is a non-acquisitive cash award of $15,000.

Bendigo Art Gallery Director Jessica Bridgfoot said the Prize encourages artists from across Australia to engage with the important medium of drawing and to create challenging and unique artworks. “This is a popular event that highlights the ongoing relevance of the medium of drawing, and the result is always exceptional and wide-ranging. This year we see embroidered textiles, text-based and digital works, as well as more traditional forms, and each revealing exceptional skill,” she said.

The 2020 finalists’ exhibition is showing at Bendigo Art Gallery until 7 February 2021. Voting for the People’s Choice Award closes at 5pm, 6 February with the winner announced on Sunday 7 February 2021.