A portrait of Australian actress and singer Ursula Yovich has taken out the 2019 Kilgour Prize.
The painting, Queen of her own stage, by Sydney-based artist Blak Douglas was declared the winner at the launch of the Kilgour Prize exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery on Friday night.
Selected from hundreds of entries and 30 finalists, the striking 1.5-metre square portrait impressed the three judges – Loretta Morton (Newcastle Art Gallery Director, Jon Cattapan, artist and Director of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), and Campbelltown Arts Centre director Michael Dagostino – for its powerful composition and compelling style.
The artist himself said the work was intended to be a symbol of female Indigenous empowerment.
“My dear friend Ursula Yovich, actress and songstress dynamo, has always been on my list of subjects to paint,” Blak Douglas said.
“This painting is all about her and is a metaphor for the female black voice. I asked Ursula to stand upon a chair for the pose because I saw it as a metaphor for Aboriginal voices to be heard.”
The Kilgour Prize is one the most lucrative on the Australian art scene, with $50,000 for the winning artist, as well as a $5,000 People’s Choice Award – the winner of which will be announced on Monday 23 September.
It is administered by Newcastle Art Gallery and funded via a bequest from Australian artist Jack Noel Kilgour.
The Kilgour Prize exhibition is on at Newcastle Art Gallery until Sunday 13 October.
Visitors can vote for the People’s Choice Award at the Gallery until 5pm Wednesday 18 September.