Last week renown Noosa artist Dr Jandamarra Cadd revealed his 2019 entry into the Archibald Portrait Prize amidst gasps from the crowd gathered at the newly opened Henderson Gallery in Brisbane.
It was an exhibition to showcase a handful of artists’ works destined to go before the infamous Archibald panel of judges.
“There was an overwhelmingly positive response to my portrait”, Jandamarra said, “I haven’t had a response to a painting like this before”.
This statement means more than it may appear, as this humble artist routinely has hundreds of thousands of reactions to his paintings when he reveals them online.
His large and intimate portrait this year is of Olympic Gold Medalist and former politician Nova Peris.
“I have been in touch with and wanting to paint Nova for a few years now,” he said. “Our paths hadn’t aligned until recently. I have so much respect for Nova and the life she has lived and the direction she has taken to be where she is today. From being the first ever Aboriginal person to win a gold medal at the Olympics, to the first ever Aborigjnal woman to sit in parliament”
The portrait shows a close-up image of Ms Peris’s face and another hand painting white ochre paint across her forehead.
“When Nova delivered her maiden speech on her entry into Parliament, she was painted up just like this before she entered the chambers.. So I wanted to recreate a bit of that moment while also using the ochre to show her connection to her ancestors of this land,” Jandamarra said.
“This portrait took me two months to paint. I left it a bit late this year due to other big projects I’ve been working on. So I devoted myself over the last 9 weeks – sometimes painting 18 hours in a day to make it happen. I chose to use a hyper-realism style. I have endeavoured to capture every pore and wrinkle – every piece of tiny detail as to give a true representation of that intimacy that you get by standing right up close with a person and experiencing that moment with them.”
This is Jandamarra’s eighth entry in the Archibald Prize. In 2014 he was named a finalist for his portrait of Archie Roach completed in dot work.
“For me it is a continual commitment to representing First Nations people in a positive light while highlighting the value in who they are and where they have come from and also what they inherently bring to this country,” he said
This year’s Archibald Finalists will be announced by the Art Gallery of NSW on 2 May with the winner announced on 10 May.