2020 Paul Guest Prize winner announced

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2020 Paul Guest Prize winner announced
Richard Lewer, 2020 2020. Charcoal on museum rag board. Courtesy of the artist and sullivan+strumpf, Sydney. Paul Guest Prize 2020 winner.

BENDIGO.- Richard Lewer’s charcoal drawing 2020, created in response to the human impact of the Black Summer bushfires and all that followed, has won the Paul Guest Prize for Drawing.

Guest judge Leslie Harding, Artistic Director of Heide Museum of Modern Art, said Lewer’s work serves both as a snapshot and a summary of the year’s redirection.

“The masked figures are silenced, motionless and yet simmering with a palpable anxiety that is intensified by the field of thousands of lines that give the picture its dissident energy. This is a powerful drawing loaded with portent and very much of its times; part observation and large part pithy and incisive social commentary,” she said.

Richard Lewer is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist who works with video and animation, painting, drawing and performance. He was the 63rd recipient of the Blake Prize for Religious Art, winner of the 2016 Basil Sellers Art Prize and a 2017 Archibald finalist. The artist said the inspiration for 2020 was drawn from visits to fire affected areas in Victoria.

“There were so many horrific images in the media depicting the personal, community and environmental losses you couldn’t help but be impacted by the enormity even safely far away in the city. I felt the need to visit some of these communities in East Gippsland, Victoria in the aftermath of the fires to grasp the sobering reality of confronting disaster and loss. This drawing depicts people in an urban setting wearing face masks, cities beset by smoke pollution and ash, soon to be plagued by the outbreak of COVID-19,” he said.

The Paul Guest Prize is an award and exhibition held biennially that highlights contemporary drawing practice in Australia. Initiated by former Family Court Judge and Olympic rower, The Honourable Paul Guest OAM QC, the prize and exhibition encourages artists from across Australia to engage with the important medium of drawing in contemporary art practice. The Prize is a non-acquisitive cash award of $15,000.

Bendigo Art Gallery Director Jessica Bridgfoot said the prize encourages artists from across Australia to engage with the important medium of drawing and to create challenging and unique art works. “This is a popular event that highlights the ongoing relevance of the medium of drawing, and the result is always exceptional and wide-ranging. This year we see embroidered textiles, text-based and digital works, as well as more traditional forms, and each revealing exceptional skill.

“We are indebted to the exceptional Paul Guest for his ongoing commitment to this important prize, to Bendigo Art Gallery and to Australian art in general,” she said.

Previous winners of the Paul Guest Prize include Laith McGregor (2018), Peter Grziwotz (2016), Heather B Swann (2014), Tom Nicholson (2012) and Belinda Fox (2010).

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