Lennox artists takes Archibald Prize People's Choice award
An intense, piercing image of the Kurdish-Iranian journalist and author Behrouz Boochani has won the 2020 Archibald Prize People's Choice at the Art Gallery of NSW this morning.
The large, realistic work was painted by Lennox Head artist Angus McDonald who last year made a film about Boochani and his struggle to leave harsh detention on Manus Island where he was being held as a refugee.
Boochani could not be at the Art Gallery of NSW because he is living in New Zealand.
McDonald said he was thrilled to receive the public's vote.
"It's the highest compliment to receive the vote of the public, for me as the artist but I suspect even more for Behrouz, who despite never even setting foot on the mainland, has earned the respect, admiration and even the love of so many Australians for his writing, his art, and his tireless struggle against captivity until he got to New Zealand last year," McDonald said.
"I've depicted Behrouz directly engaging the viewer as a strong, confident and peaceful man who survived an ordeal and is now free.
McDonald has been a six-time Archibald finalist.
Boochani said McDonald had travelled to New Zealand to spend time with him on the portrait, which must be painted from life.
"He as an artist captured what was important to me with his deep insight and remarkable skills," Boochani said.
"This work represents me as a person that exists, not a person who was created by media or what people want to see.
"I think this work has resonated with the public because people see it as a symbol of hope and resistance, especially minorities and refugees in the community or in detention."
The New Zealand government granted Boochani refugee status in July 2020, permitting him to live there indefinitely.
A total of 13,645 people voted in the People's Choice.