The Calleen Art award winner was announced at the opening of the exhibition on Saturday, May 6.
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This year was the 40th anniversary of the Award, established in 1977 as an acquisitive art prize by Patricia Fagan OAM to encourage originality, creativity and excellence and bring a sense of cultural development to the region and encourage the arts in Cowra.
Councillor Judi Smith said that Cowra’s Art Gallery was one of the best in the region.
“The exhibitions it has are many, varied and are of outstanding quality but I have always felt the Calleen Award exhibition is the absolute jewel in the crown of the art gallery.”
This year the award received 275 entries from across Australia with 49 artists selected as finalists by a pre-selection panel of experts.
Judging the finalists for a winner was Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Angus Trumble.
Mr Trumble said the Cowra Art Gallery was an exemplary example of a regional art gallery.
“If you work in an American Art museum… you can spend a life long professional career and never once cross paths with a working, living, breathing artist,” he said.
“By contrast in Australia, it’s impossible to work in an art museum of any description national, state, or above all regional and not encounter working artists every day and that is one of the great strengths of national art scene.
“For as long as I can remember the demise of painting in Australia has been predicted but the opposite has happened not only is painting alive and well it is thriving in Australia.
The winning piece was “Aurdery” by Zai Kuang. In selecting the piece as the winner Mr Trumble said it had a, “psychological complexity in the subject which is deceptively simple”.
“The winner spoke to me through a very unusual but impressive proportional shape, a great simplicity of conception but combined with deep structure,” he said.
“Despite that, a delicacy of handling hovering over that architecture, a taught disciplined very narrow pallet but exquisite colourism and beautiful drawing, but a degree also of psychological complexity in the subject which is deceptively simple.”
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