Black Swan Prize for Portraiture 2018

Black Swan Prize for Portraiture 2018

The Black Swan Prize for Portraiture is celebrating its twelfth anniversary in 2018 and its third year at the Art Gallery of WA. 40 finalists from across Australia have been chosen from over 500 artists who entered this year's prestigious prize, the second largest total since ARTrinsic Inc conceived the event 12 years ago.

Amongst this year's finalists 25% were Western Australian artists, 38% were from VIC, 28% from NSW, with the remaining 9% from SA and TAS. Many of the finalists' works involve subjects that play a significant part in their lives or they have chosen to look within and present a self-portrait. A number of previous finalists have made this year’s list, including Benjamin Aitken, Mark Tweedie and Josh Cocking.

Pre-Selection Panellists Ted Snell, Margaret Moore, Penny Bovell, Anna Richardson and Dunja Rmandic, said the works revealed a real sense of intimacy with their subjects and told powerful stories, whilst the self-portraits offered authentic perspectives and a chance to connect with artists in a personal way.

The finalists' artworks are on display at the AGWA, in the Centenary Galleries, from 27 October to 26 November 2018. The Awards were announced on 2 November at the 2018 Awards Night.

Related Information






Antoinette Barbouttis, 2018 Le ster Prize Winner& John Langoulant, ARTrinsic Inc Board Chair
Antoinette Barbouttis, 2018 Lester Prize Winner & John Langoulant, ARTrinsic Inc Board Chair. 


Lester Group 1st Prize | $50,000

Artist Statement: 
Alexandra Liveris and I both come from the Greek island of Castellorizo. We discovered we were fourth cousins twice removed. In the past few years I have taken solace in my female contemporaries and she is one of them. I have remained independent and single so that I can focus on my work, and this has been rewarded with strong friendships. Human connection is the most important exchange to me, particularly in a society where one can feel ostracised because of one’s dual ethnicity and as a female creative. My artistic approach is personal, connected, and sustained—elements that I find complement our friendship.

Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize BENJAMIN AITKEN Jack
 Benjamin Aitken Jack 2018 (detail). Courtesy of the artist.


Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize | $10,000

Artist Statement:
My painting Jack addresses perfection and imperfection, allowing viewers to ponder their preconceived notions about the human face and confront their conventional response to ‘imperfect’ portraiture. The cap is a nod to my sitter’s interest in cooking, and also cements a place for the portrait in my ongoing body of work which is heavily influenced by text
and concrete poetry.


Highly Commended | $500 Oxlades Art Supplies Gift Voucher

RUTH LEIGHT May Wokka Chapman
PETER WEGNER Medicated man–portrait of G.D


2018 BSPP Highly Commended_01
Ruth Leigh May Wokka Chapman 2018.


Artist Statement: 
May Wokka appraises the viewer, squinting in a deceptively casual fashion as she takes in every detail. On the surface May is soft, yet her internal focus is sharp. She analyses each situation, each person she encounters with clarity and scathing humour. May has seen and experienced more than most—she is a force, she is a survivor. I came to paint May after working with her over several years in art centres of the Pilbara. In this work I sought to represent the deep respect and admiration I feel for May—her tenacity, intelligence and wit.


2018 Black Swan Prize Highly Commended _02
Peter Wegner Medicated man–portrait of G.D. 2017.


Artist Statement: 
This portrait of Graeme Doyle is one of many l have completed over our thirty-year friendship. Medicated man—portrait of G.D. refers to Graeme’s battle with mental illness and his struggle to maintain a normal life whilst his health is moderated by necessary daily medication. This work was painted from life when he visited my studio in Diamond Creek, Victoria.

About the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture

Established in 2007 by ARTrinsic Inc, the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture is the third richest prize in Australia after the Archibald and Moran competitions. This year's selected finalists are in the running for $70,000 worth of prizes — including the coveted $50,000 Lester Group Prize, $10,000 Toni Fini Foundation Artist Prize, the $7,500 Baldock Family People’s Choice Award and two Highly Commended $500 gift vouchers from Oxlades Art Supplies.

The Lester Group Prize, Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize, and two Highly Commended Prizes were announced on 2 November 2018. The Baldock Family People's Choice Prize will be announced on 28 November 2018.

Thirty youth finalists were also announced as part of the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture. These works along with the Salon des Refusés works will be on public display from 29 October - 23 November 2018 in Towers 1 and 2 of Brookfield Place. Winners of the Youth prizes were announced on 7 November 2018.



Black Swan Prize Logo


Founder and Presenting Partner ARTrinsic Inc.

AGWA is closed until 16 October for a final stage of redevelopment works. Details