Saturday, 24 February 2007

Sebastian Smee, art critic at The Australian, has picked his winners out of the finalists of this year's Archibald Prize. But first he tries to characterise the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and their approach to nominating the winner.

[O]n the whole they are keen to avoid two things. One is seeming too conservative, and that rules out painters such as Smeeth or the far more worthy Robert Hannaford.

The other is seeming too wilfully radical. The trustees want to choose winners that show they are with it (anything to avoid reverting to those years when the Archibald was won year in and year out by the competent but less-than-revolutionary William Dargie or Ivor Hele). But they should not open themselves up to accusations that they are being perverse.

Then he makes his own choices.

"For me," he says, "the two likeliest winners are David Griggs and Jenny Sages." First, here's Griggs' The bleeding hearts club #1 (self portrait):

Then Sages' Irina Baronova (handing on the baton):

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