The Go-Betweens frontman portrait of the artist embodies ‘ the endless possibilities of portraiture and painting, ‘ say judges.
‘ The subject hovers like a vibrating wave on the canvas ‘: the artist known as What has won the national portrait award for his Australian musician Robert Forster’s painting, Photo: Jessica Hromas
The artist known as “What” was unwilling to be awarded the richest art prize in Australia.
The artist seemed shocked when he was called his grammatically confusing name–it’s not really a pseudonym as his partner his buddies, and even his parents call him “What”. There is a space opening up around him. Wildly snapped camera shutters. He burst into tears with his partner, who had accompanied him to the event.
What has previously been a finalist in the prizes of Wynne, Sulman and Doug Moran, who is supremely difficult for Google. His painting of Go-Betweens frontman Robert Forster was selected from nearly 1,000 entrants and on Wednesday morning at Juniper Hall in Sydney was awarded the $150,000 Doug Moran portrait prize.
“It’s highly unexpected,” the artist said when he announced his win. “That is a life changing sum of money.”
“I’ve been painting Robert for the third time,” he said. “Robert was so important to me as a baby artist in Australia. Great music.Wearing lipstick, wearing dresses.”
The Doug Moran prize is awarded to an original work, painted at least partly from life, by an Australian artist of an Australian subject.
This year the jury included of artist and 2013 winner Nigel Milsom; Kelly Gellatly, director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at Melbourne University; and Peter Moran, whose parents Greta and Doug Moran founded the Moran Arts Foundation in 1988.


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