Archibald packers pick Waititi portrait

Cassandra MorganAAP
A portrait of film maker Taika Waititi by Claus Stangl has won the Archibald Packing Room Prize.
Camera IconA portrait of film maker Taika Waititi by Claus Stangl has won the Archibald Packing Room Prize. Credit: AAP

Self-taught artist Claus Stangl has taken out one of Australia’s top art honours with his portrait of Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi.

Stangl on Thursday won the $3000 Packing Room Prize, an Archibald Prize category, which is awarded by gallery staff who receive, unpack, and hang the portraits.

“I really couldn’t believe it when he said that I could do it and I could paint him,” Stangl said.

“He’s a guy who’s completely comfortable in front of the camera, as well as working behind the lens.”

Head packer Brett Cuthbertson holds 52 per cent of the vote for the Packing Room Prize and said this year would be his last on the judging panel. He will retire after 41 years with the Art Gallery of NSW.

“In this world full of war and COVID [it] is pretty miserable at times. This guy has a vision and a twisted sense of humour that we all need right now,” Mr Cuthbertson said, referring to Waititi.

“The painting immediately grabbed my attention, I love the look on his face and his pose. It’s the first time I’ve seen a 3D painting come in, but it’s kind of a fake 3D.”

Artist Claus Stangl's portrait of director Taika Waititi.
Camera IconA portrait of NZ Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi has won Archibald Packing Room Prize. Credit: AAP

Stangl’s 3D-style portrait of Waititi is one of 52 finalist works for the Archibald Prize, which were selected from more than 800 entries.

The Sydney-based artist captured Waititi while he was in the city making the upcoming film Thor: Love and Thunder.

This year is the fourth time Stangl has entered the Archibald Prize and the second time he has been a finalist. He was a finalist in 2020 for his portrait of Sydney hip-hop musician Sukhdeep Singh Bhogal, better known as L-FRESH The LION.

The winner of the top national portrait gong - the Archibald, the country’s oldest art prize - will receive $100,000.

Archibald Prize entries must have been painted in the past year from at least one live sitting with the artist.

The $50,000 Wynne Prize will go to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figurative sculpture, while the $40,000 Sulman Prize will be awarded to the best subject painting, genre painting, or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour, or mixed media.

This year, more than 1900 entries were received for the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman prizes.

The remaining winners will be announced next Friday, May 13.

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