Catherine O’Donnell’s minimalistic urban depiction wins the 2021 KAAF Art Prize

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 KAAF Art Prize – Korea-Australia Arts Foundation’s annual art prize and exhibition that aims to foster multiculturalism by bringing artists together from diverse ethnicities from across Australia. This year, the Prize was open themed, and entries in 2D and any medium were accepted.

Catherine O’Donnell was awarded the $20,000 acquisitive Winner’s Prize for her minimalistic charcoal drawing Still Lives, which depicts the urban aesthetic that shapes our everyday lives by searching for the humanity, history, and politics of a place and attempting to offer a renewed vision of these landscapes.

Catherine O’Donnell, Still Lives, charcoal on paper, 47 × 110cm. Courtesy the artist

‘Presenting untethered architectural details, my drawings strip back the supposed uniformity of suburbia, unveiling the individuality within its often dismissed or overlooked dwellings. Using minimalism, I isolate these modest buildings from their contexts and represent only their structure to explore their compositional potential and underlying symmetry, striving to offer a renewed vision of these landscapes, often seen as bleak. I aim to inscribe the lives lived within these dwellings, to insinuate the qualities of home, to reassert value.’

– Catherine O’Donnell, artist.

Highly Commended winners, each receiving a $2,000 prize, were Darwin-based contemporary artist Sonia Martignon for her work entitled We Need the Tonic of Wildness, which captures untamed wilderness and its wealth of colour, shape, and spirit; and Christine Druitt-Preston’s Margaret Olley home studio inspired The Chinese Screen. In addition, two Judge’s Commendation awards were given to Melbourne-based Korean artist Jaedon Shin for his work At The Temple and Tristan Chant for his ‘Decomposer’ series’ Lobster with Fruit Bowl.

This year’s judges include art critic of the Sydney Morning Herald, John McDonald; Senior Lecturer at Sydney College of the Arts, Oliver Smith; and Inae Kim, a professor of Chung-Ang University College of Arts in South Korea.

In regards to the winning work, McDonald said:

‘Anyone who looks at this work can tell how much time and effort the artist put into it. It is a work that demonstrates the artist’s perseverance and effort in deftly expressing the features of the urban landscape in charcoal.’

The 8th KAAF Art Prize exhibition of 68 finalists’ works is on display at the Korean Cultural Centre Australia Gallery in Sydney until 10 December 2021.