Caroline Zilinsky has been announced as the winner of the 2020 Portia Geach Memorial Award; the preeminent portraiture prize for women in Australia, presented annually to an Australian female artist for the best portrait painted from life of a man or woman distinguished in art, letters or the sciences.
Zelinsky will receive $30,000 for winning work, Anthea May or May Not, depicting contemporary dancer Anthea Pilko which will be on display at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, Sydney.
Sharing background on the portrait, the artist writes: ‘Australian contemporary dancer Anthea Pilko spent the first seven years of her life in a full-body cast to correct a congenital hip problem. She is now a veteran dancer whose oeuvre includes private performances for dignitaries and former Prime Ministers. Here she sits in her signature faux fur coat, and Adidas slides with the chincherinchee flowers she brought for our sitting.’
The judging panel – Anita Belgiorno-Nettis, Trustee of Art Gallery of New South Wales; Natalie Wilson, Curator of Australian and Pacific Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and Jane Watters, Director, S.H Ervin Gallery – selected 60 works from 397 entries received from female artists across the nation; commenting that this year’s finalists demonstrated that contemporary Australian portraiture has a vibrant future despite the challenges faced this year. The resilience shown by the artists in the finalist exhibition is encouraging and humbling.
On Zilinsky’s outstanding portrait, they said: ‘The winning work captured our attention with its unique style and meticulous attention to detail. This bold and penetrating work sensitively portrays the sitter, naked yet proud and strong. The artist has successfully navigated the line between the absurd and the profound in a distinctive personal and imaginative manner that is disarmingly honest.’
The judges also highly commended Susan O’Doherty for her colourful portrait of artist Myfanwy Gullifer and Natasha Walsh for her intricate self-portrait painting on marble.
An exhibition of all finalists’ works is open for public viewing at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in The Rocks, Sydney, from 14 August to 20 September 2020.