There are 40 finalists in this year’s Lester (Portrait) Prize, which include both Aboriginal artists and subjects.

Attracting nearly double the entries on last year, the Lester Prize (previously known as the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture) partners with organisations the Lester Group, Tony Fini Foundation, Minderoo Foundation, Baldock Family, Ashurst and the Barton Family Foundation to offer a prize pool worth over $100,000 – including a main prize of $50,000.

The 2021 pre-selection panel (Tom Muller, Emilia Galatis, Helen Turner, Isobel Wise and Jim Cathcart) was given the artwork image, title, dimensions and medium on screen, but not the name or location of the artist. The result is that 22 of the 40 finalists are emerging artists.

Panel member Helen Turner said, “We can define portraiture as ‘an artwork that tells a person’s story, evoking a sense of connection between viewer and subject.’ This years’ portrait selection is convincingly human, personal, emotional and reveals a part of the life and story of each individual.

The panel felt the weight of responsibility and the innate difficulty of narrowing the selection of finalists, down to 5.33% of all entries. However, decisions were cohesive and with consensus and robust debate ensued when opinions varied.

“The artists are all to be congratulated for demonstrating their skill and creativity, and giving us a 2021 Lester Prize of never ending fascination for the human condition, represented in it’s very many stages and phases of life”.

The finalists’ works will be exhibited at AGWA’s Centeneary Galleries between 16 October to 29 November. There will also be big screen displays of the portraits at two of Perth’s major shopping centres, outdoor exhibitions and a virtual gallery event.

More details