Justine Varga wins Dobell Drawing Prize 2019

National Arts School Justine Varga Steven AldertonNSW Minister of the Arts, The Hon Don Harwin has announced Justine Varga as the winner of the 2019 Dobell Drawing Prize for her work Photogenic drawing (2018).

The announcement was made at the opening of the Dobell Drawing Prize #21 exhibition where Varga’s winning work will be presented alongside 57 finalist works at the National Art School Gallery (NAS) until 25 May 2019. Acclaimed Indigenous artist Tony Albert was Highly Commended for his work Old Sins Cast Long Shadows.

“The Dobell Drawing Prize has always inspired the question, What is a drawing? and this year’s Prize offers an exciting range of artists’ responses: from ambitious, large-scale works using complex materials to intimate and agile drawings,” said Steven Alderton, Director of the National Art School.

“We see works of exceptional technical skill in charcoal and pencil, as well as drawings realised through photography, animation, textile, sculpture and performance. It is perhaps this breadth of possibility that defines contemporary drawing and gives the Dobell Drawing Prize its enduring appeal.”

Justine Varga’s winning work challenges the distinction between photography and drawing. The negative from which Photogenic drawing has been derived was drawn on and daubed with pigment during its long exposure.

In Photogenic drawing, Varga considers photography as drawing with light and this print is an example of a drawing practice that is at once physical and chemical, autobiographical and contingent, painterly and photographic.

Tony Albert’s Highly Commended work Old Sins Cast Long Shadows, considers the history and framework of representing First Nations peoples globally. The work depicts the silhouette of a single figure made up of the many inaccurate and harmful representation of First Nations peoples throughout history, challenging the reductive representation that has obscured the serious issues that have plagued First Nations communities for years and led to the creation of warped stereotypes that make it easier to ignore ongoing oppression.

“The Dobell Drawing Prize 2019 is the first iteration of the Prize at the National Art School and the twenty-first in its rich history,” said Alderton. “It received a record 788 entries from across the country, the most number of entries the Prize has ever received.”

“NAS is delighted to partner with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation to present this important biannual event centred on contemporary drawing, especially within the context of the Festival of Drawing at National Art School.”

The national biennial Prize celebrates innovation, technical skills and diverse media alongside a campus-wide Festival of Drawing at the National Art School that includes a program of talks, tours, exhibitions, workshops and a symposium on Friday 29 March exploring the importance of drawing in all its diversity, where celebrated Australian artist Mike Parr will present the keynote address.

The 2019 Dobell Drawing Prize exhibition is on display at the National Art School Gallery until Saturday 25 May. For more information, visit: www.nas.edu.au for details.

Image: Steven Alderton and Justine Varga with her winning work, Photogenic drawing (supplied)