Tony Costa's Portrait of Fellow Artist Lindy Lee Has Just Taken Out the 2019 Archibald Prize

You can check out all the winners and finalists at the AGNSW when the exhibition launches tomorrow.
Samantha Teague
May 10, 2019

For the first time in the award's 98-year history, a portrait of an Asian Australian has taken out the coveted Archibald Prize. The winner of the 2019 prize, announced today, is a painting of contemporary artist Lindy Lee by Sydney painter Tony Costa.

Costa's oil painting, titled Lindy Lee, was chosen from 51 finalists, which include Tessa MacKay's Packing Room Prize-winning hyperreal portrait of actor David Wenham. In the portrait, Costa attempts to capture the energy of Lee — a practising Zen Buddhist and Taoist, who explores her Chinese ancestry and spirituality through her paintings and sculptures — through his use of minimal colour.

"I have kept the colour minimal to avoid any visual noise," said Costa in a statement. "The challenge for me was to capture the energy of Lindy — the emotional over and above the physical. Costa said it was this energy — as well as her "wisdom, humility, courage, humour" — which attracted him to Lee, who was herself a Archibald finalist in 2002, and sat for portraits in 06 and 12.

Costa's works are known for their distortion of form and colour, which he employs in this most-recent work.

Lindy Lee by Tony Costa.

In more good news, the winners of the Wynne and Sir John Sulman prizes were also revealed today. Sylvia Ken took out the former — which awards the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figure sculpture — for her depiction of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands (Ken's homeland) and skies where the Seven Sisters story takes place. This is the fourth year in a row that an Indigenous Australian artist has been awarded the prize.

Seven Sisters by Sylvia a Ken. Photo by Jenni Carter.

The Sir John Sulman Prize goes to the best mural, subject or genre painting, and was this year awarded to McLean Edwards' work entitled The first girl that knocked on his door, depicting a young man looking for love.

The first girl that knocked on his door by McLean Edwards. Photo by Mim Stirling.

The winning portraits and finalists will be on display at Sydney's Art Gallery of NSW from tomorrow — Saturday, May 11 — up until September 9. If you do't agree with the judges, you can cast your own vote for People's Choice.


Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney — May 11–September 9
TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria — September 14–November 5
Gosford Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, NSW — November 15–January 12, 2020
Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, NSW — January 24, 2020–March 8
Bank Art Museum Moree, NSW — March 20, 2020–May 3
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW — May 15, 2020–June 28
Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, NSW — July 3, 2020–August 16

If you can't make it to any of the above dates, you can check out the award winners and finalists of the ArchibaldWynne and Sulman Prizes on the Art Gallery of NSW website.

Published on May 10, 2019 by Samantha Teague
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