Ben Quilty wins with dash of help from his father
David Eastwood at Redlands
Redlands High School is using iPads to further the art experience. This video, in which artist David Eastwood discusses his entry for the Redlands Art Prize, is among those that would play when gallery visitors point an iPad at the paintings.
THE elderly man looks apprehensive and fragile as he sits with his torso naked, a possibly unwilling subject.
Ben Quilty's portrait of his elderly father has won this year's Redlands Art Prize.
Rachel Kent, a judge of the prize, knows the reaction her choice is likely to provoke: Not Ben again. But the much-awarded Quilty was a standout in theme and technique.
Ben Quilty's Dad … ''It's a deeply personal work, it's very much about that relationship of father and son.''
''It is beautifully painted; the subject matter is poignant,'' Kent says. ''A portrait of the artist's father really touches a nerve. It's a deeply personal work, it's very much about that relationship of father and son.
''Ben's work for a number of years now has explored masculinity. That dynamic between father and son is quite poignant. It's also looking at age and fragility.''
Kent, the senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and fellow judge Mark Harpley, co-ordinator of visual arts at Redlands, were unanimous. And their choice has the approval of the artist Lindy Lee who curated the prize.
''Ben as an artist has matured incredibly,'' Lee says. ''His work is very painterly and very tough in a way. He really feels everything he's painting.''
The prestigious invitation-only prize, in its 15th year, is unique in the way it brings together older and younger artists.
Its curator invites 22 established artists to take part, who this year include Rodney Pople, Maria Fernanda Cardoso and David Eastwood. They in turn select an emerging artist to submit a work.
''I wanted to pick a diverse range of people whose careers were established and lend a generational vitality,'' Lee says. ''There's a generational generosity about the prize.''
This year's prize is being shown for the first time within the generous space of the National Art School, which has meant Lee could select a broader range of work than previously.
The prize, which carries a total of $31,000 in prize money, is acquisitive. Quilty's Dad will become part of the school's collection. So, too, will emerging artist Kelly Doley's work The Learning Centre: 49 Things Learnt about Humans.
Many of the winning works in previous prizes hang in the school's corridors.
''It means that as the kids are walking around they are seeing our collection and so are constantly engaging with contemporary art,'' says Harpley.
''It also lets our students see that there is career potential in visual arts, it's something achievable, something they can do. Art is not just about dead artists, it's a living part of our culture.''
Visitors to this year's prize can use their iPhone or iPad to view footage of artists talking about their work.
Redlands Art Prize is at the National Art School Gallery, Forbes Street, Darlinghurst, from tomorrow until until August 2.