Sydney artist Bruno Jean Grasswill has taken out the double in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ 2015 Archibald Prize, winning both the Packing Room Prize and now the People’s Choice award for his portrait of Michael Caton. It is only the third time in the history of the Archibald Prize that a finalist has won the two prizes in the same year.
Previous double-winners were Paul Newton in 2001 for his portrait of Roy and H.G. (John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver) and Jan Williamson the following year for her portrait of singer/songwriter Jenny Morris.
Grasswill’s portrait of actor Michael Caton nudged out Sydney artist Julian Meagher’s portrait of musician Daniel Johns and Carla Fletcher’s mixed media work of fashion designer Jenny Kee to win the People’s Choice award.
Since the 2015 Archibald Prize opened in July, visitors to the exhibition have voted on their favourite work, with Bruno Jean Grasswill’s painting receiving the most votes. The People’s Choice award carries a $3,500 cash prize for the artist.
It was on his 69th birthday this year that French-born Grasswill painted the last brushstroke on his oil painting of Michael Caton. He has been entering the Archibald Prize regularly since moving to Australia in 1971 and this was his first year as a finalist.
Congratulating Grasswill on his win, Art Gallery of New South Wales Director Michael Brand said the painting had clearly struck a chord, from the packing room staff right through to the gallery-going public.
“Michael Caton is a much-loved Australian and his portrait is the kind of work the Archibald Prize is all about,” said Mr Brand said. “The Prize is a lively celebration of people in the public eye and the People’s Choice award recognises the favourite faces our visitors have enjoyed.”
Each year one person who voted for the People’s Choice award-winning painting is selected at random to win a People’s Choice voters’ prize. In 2015, the lucky voter is Christine Power, who receives a $3,500 cash prize. Christine said she loved the way Bruno Jean Grasswill captured the essence of Michael Caton.
“The portrait highlights the true larrikin character that he is in all his rugged glory, but also shows his thoughtful and enduring side which seems to speak to you from this painting,” said Ms Power. “It certainly has done justice to a great Australian actor.”
Born in France in 1946, Bruno Jean Grasswill came to Australia in 1971. He has worked professionally in visual arts disciplines such as photography, commercial art, illustration, computerised art, art direction and fine arts. Bruno Jean Grasswill holds private exhibitions and works on commissions.
He has had two portraits hung in the Salon des Refusés exhibition previously. Bruno Jean Grasswill’s catalogue of works is extensive, from book covers, book illustrations, advertising, graphics and numerous works of art, for the most part created to explore human relationships. His range of works is wide – from abstract to surrealism.
The 2015 Archibald Prize exhibition is currently on show at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 27 September 2015. The exhibition will then be displayed at the Art Gallery of Ballarat from 2 October – 15 November 2015.
Image: Bruno Jean Grasswill and Michael Caton with the portrait that won the 2015 People’s Choice award and 2015 Packing Room Prize – photo courtesy of Art Gallery of New South Wales