18/10/2021 - 06:30

Tapia wins $50,000 portraiture prize

18/10/2021 - 06:30

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New South Wales artist Sidney Tapia was awarded the 2021 Richard Lester Prize for Portraiture at the Art Gallery of WA on Friday evening.

Tapia wins $50,000 portraiture prize
Sidney Tapia won the prize for his portrait of Siaosi Feiloakitau.

New South Wales artist Sidney Tapia was awarded the 2021 Richard Lester Prize for Portraiture at the Art Gallery of WA on Friday evening.

With a total prize pool of $100,000, the Richard Lester Prize for Portraiture is one of Western Australia’s largest art prizes.

Mr Tapia won the prize for his portrait of Siaosi Feiloakitau, a man he often speaks with at Pitt Street Mall in Sydney. 

The work, titled Through You, is an oil painting on a small 20.3cm x 20.3cm wooden board.  

He was also awarded the inaugural Barton Family Foundation Installers’ Prize of $5,000.

Mr Tapia said he was emotional when he found out he had won.

“On hearing the news of my win at first I felt very taken aback, literal shivers, shocked, elated, wowed, extremely thankful and very encouraged,” Mr Tapia said.

“I still feel that way now.”   

The works were judged by former AGWA director Alan Dodge, AGWA curator, head of indigenous programs Clothilde Bullen and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art curator Helen Carroll who unanimously agreed Mr Tapia’s portrait was the standout.

Mr Dodge said Mr Tapia took advantage of the small canvas.

“That, with a combination of really impeccable surface and facture in the painting have combined to really bring out the character of the fitter so everything is working together right,” Mr Dodge told Business News.

“It’s interesting because big isn’t always better and this time, small really worked.”

The Lester Prize executive director Annie Silberstein congratulated Mr Tapia on taking out the two prizes.

“This shows the impressive nature and admiration of his work – from both expert and amateur art lover alike,” Ms Silberstein said.

“Despite another challenging year of COVID-19 restrictions, The Lester Prize has continued to grow with another record-breaking number of entries, and we have the ongoing support of all of our sponsors and suppliers allowing us to share our exciting portrait exhibitions for the next six weeks with the WA public.”

Sidney Tapia's portrait called Through You. 

Several other prizes were awarded on Friday night.

WA artist Emily Song was the recipient of the $15,000 Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize and the $10,000 Minderoo Foundation Spirit Prize for her work titled Dumplings.

Another WA artist, Illyampi Victor Burton, won the $5,000 Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize for Mamu.  

NSW artist Sally Ryan and ACT artists Narelle Zeller were awarded Oxlades Highly Commended.

The work of the forty finalists will be displayed at AGWA for six weeks, until November 29.

The Baldock Family People’s Choice Prize will be announced on 2 December 2021. 

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