Patrick Tjungurrayi is announced as the winner of the inaugural $50,000 WA Indigenous Art Award:

They were the best, the best-looking, judge Djon Mundine said with disarming simplicity to explain the choice announced by Premier Colin Barnett at the Art Gallery of WA last night FRI.

Mr Mundine said the judges initially had resisted giving the inaugural $50,000 WA Indigenous Art Award to Tjungurrayi because his paintings fitted the dot-and-dash Aboriginal art stereotype and the intention of the award was to showcase the diversity of styles across the country.

Among the 90 works from the 16 finalists were the video projections and digital photography of Queenslanders Jenny Fraser and Fiona Foley, the intricate linocut prints of Torres Strait Islander Alick Tipoti and the bold, pop-art banners of Brisbane artist Gordon Hookey.

But Tjungurrayi’s three untitled paintings, each of them 2.5m wide, had leapt out as the best, Mr Mundine said.

His three pictures as a group had a particularly strong presence and were really pushing the tradition he was working in. These are powerful, masterful, monumental works.

The 16 finalists’ artworks will be on show at the Art Gallery of WA until January, when the winner of the $5000 People’s Choice Award will be announced.