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Top 10 Favourite Australian Artists

7 July 2008 18 comments

Paul Newton

Kylie Minogue
Oil on canvas

Paul Newton is an Australian artist who has twice won the Packing Room award at the Archibald Prize.
He won in 1996 with a portrait of announcer John Laws, and again in 2001 with a portrait of characters Roy Slaven and HG Nelson, which also won the people's choice award.

He has works in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, and is a portrait artist for Parliament House. He has painted Prime Ministers and Governor General William Deane. Other portraits by him have been Archibald Prize finalists including paintings of model Kate Fischer in 1997; model Maggie Tabberer in 1999; rugby player David Campese in 2000 (which was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery). He has also won portrait competitions in Philadelphia and The Portrait Society of America's 2003 International Portrait Competition in Washington DC.

In 1999, a portrait he did of Bryce Courtenay was hung in the Salon des Refuses, Archibald. A portrait of John Doyle he did was also hung in the Salon des Refuses in 1995.
In 2003, an image painted on Ian Thorpe's jeans by Paul Newton was used as a pin for the Jeans for Genes Day and the jeans were later auctioned for $26,000
He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney and a Diploma of Art from the Julian Ashton Art school in Sydney.
He painted a portrait of Tara Moss for the 2005 Archibald, which received a highly commended at the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Awards in Bega.

Welcome to the website of portrait artist Paul Newton.

Jiawei Shen

Portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (2005)(Detail)
Birth name 沈嘉蔚 (Pinyin: Shĕn Jiā wèi)
Born September 16, 1948
Shen Jiawei (born 1948) is an internationally recognised Chinese-Australian painter.
Shen Jiawei was born in Shanghai and emigrated to Australia in 1989. He was largely self-taught and became popular with the Chinese government for his 'revolutionary' images of workers and soldiers. His best known work from that period, “Standing Guard for Our Great Motherland” (1974) was subsequently shown in the Guggenheim Museum, both in New York and Bilbao, in the China: 5000 Years exhibition, 1998.
In 1995 he won the Mary McKillop Art Award and received a medal from Pope John Paul II. Shen is now one of Australia’s leading portrait artists known for the academic and literary qualities of his works.
Shen is also a painter of large-scale history pictures represented in major public collections including the National Art Gallery of China and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, in Beijing. His more playful works examine political and cross-cultural issues through appropriation. “Absolute Truth” (2000) shows Gorbachov and the Pope conversing in the Sistine Chapel and in “Wise Men from the East” (2002) the Magi in Leonardo da Vinci's unfinished Adoration of the Magi are Chinese sages.
Recent portraits include Melbourne's Lord Mayor, John So in a possum skin cloak (2003), the Hon. Tom Hughes AO QC and the portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (2005) which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
His wife Lan Wang is an artist and sculptor and his daughter Sidney is currently studying at the University of New South Wales.

Esther Erlich

Born in Melbourne in 1955, and holder of diplomas in Fine Art and Education, high-profile Esther Erlich is best known for her gritty style of portraiture. In 1998 she won the prestigious Doug Moran Portrait Prize. Erlich has been a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Award seven times and in the Archibald Prize in 2000 and 2002, and 2005. Erlich's style is raw, vital and spontaneous, yet also displays the skill and gloss of a well-seasoned artist of fifteen years standing. It is the brilliant combination of striking, even haunting portrait-like features with the light, grace and somewhat abstract fluidity of her more decorative style, that makes her work so inspiring. Be it in the muted haze of a retreating figure, the subtle turn of an outstretched ankle, or the provocative expression of her subject, one cannot help but recognise themselves. Erlich brings us face to face with our own reality, but softens the blow with a hint of froth and bubble. Cleverly, she manages to hold our attention with the intense stare of her subject, whilst seducing us with the sometimes frivolous but eternal search for beauty. Erlich is represented in both public and private collections nationally and abroad, including the CAE, Victoria, Performing Arts Museum, National Gallery of Victoria, ALP Building, A.C.T., and the National Library, Canberra.

William Dobell
" My best work was always done and still is I think when I'm experimenting. If I stop experimenting I feel it just becomes a drudgery. That's why I take so long and my sitters get tired waiting for commissioned portraits. If they commission me they have to wait years sometimes because I discard so many."

Painting Title: Helena Rubinstein 1957
Approx 97 x 99cm

William Dobell was born in 1899 in Cooks Hill, Newcastle NSW, into a working class family of six children. His father was a builder. In 1916 he was apprenticed to Newcastle architect, Wallace L. Porter. In 1924 Dobell moved to Sydney to work as a draftsman for an architectural metalwork and terracotta manufacturer. In 1925 he enrolled in evening classes at Julian Ashton's School where he was influenced by George Lambert. In 1929 Dobell was awarded the Society of Artists' Travelling Scholarship and travelled to England to study at the Slade School under Wilson Steer, Henry Tonks and William Orpen.
In 1930 Dobell won first prize for figure painting at Slade and also travelled to Poland. In 1931 Dobell travelled again to Belgium and Paris. In 1931 he returned to Australia, from England, bringing with him satirical character studies and small London genre paintings. In 1939 he began as a part-time teacher at East Sydney Technical College. In 1941 Dobell was drafted into the Civil Construction Corps of the Allied Works Council as a camouflage painters, he subsequently became the unofficial war artist for the Allied Works Council. In 1944 Dobell had his first Solo exhibition including public collection loans at the inauguration of the David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney. Dobell's 1943 work of Joshua Smith "Portrait of an artist" which was awarded the Archibald was contested in 1944 by two unsuccessful artists who brought a lawsuit against Dobell and the Gallery's Board of Trustees in the Supreme Court. The award was upheld but the ordeal left Dobell an emotional wreck and he retreated in 1945 to his sister's home at Wangi Wangi on Lake Macquarie, where he began to paint landscapes. Dobell did not like fame and it nearly destroyed him. In 1948 Dobell entered "Margaret Olley" in the Archibald and won, he also won the Wynne prize for "Storm approaching Wangi".

Read more at Andrew's Art Archive

Judy Cassab

Portrait of Margo Lewers
(1920-08-15) (age 87)
Vienna, Austria
Judy Cassab CBE AO (born Judy Kaszab on 15 August 1920) is an Australian painter. She has twice won the Archibald Prize.
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1920 to Hungarian parents, her husband was put in a forced labour camp by the Nazis in World War 2, and returned to Hungary in 1944.
She moved to Sydney in 1950.
She won the Archibald Prize in two years, the only woman to have done this:
1960 for Stan Rapotec
1967 for Margo Lewers.
She has held more than fifty solo exhibitions in Australia, as well as others in Paris and London.

Bill Leak
"If I think of all the people I admire throughout human history, the one thing they all have in common is obsession. If you weren't obsessed with something, be it painting, music, literature, science, or even tennis or boxing, you wouldn't bother with it, would you? At best, you'd dabble in it."

Portrait of Nicholas Whitlam
by Bill Leak, 2003

Bill Leak (born 1956) is the daily editorial cartoonist on The Australian newspaper. He also paints portraits.
Bill's credits include 1997 and 2002 Walkley awards.
He has entered the Archibald Prize at least 13 times, and was hung 11 times. These included portraits of Donald Bradman in 1989, Malcolm Turnbull in 1994, Graham Richardson in 1995, Tex Perkins in 1997, Gough Whitlam in 1998, Sir Les Patterson in 2000 and Robert Hughes in 2001. He won the Packing Room prize twice (for Tex Perkins and Sir Les Patterson) and also won the people's choice award for Malcolm Turnbull. In addition two paintings of him by other artists have also won the people's choice award: a painting by Josonia Palaitis in 1995, and one by Esther Erlich in 2000.
He was interviewed in the 2005 Peter Berner documentary about the Archibald Prize called Loaded Brush.
More recently he has run into trouble by portraying the then leader of the opposition (now Prime Minister of Australia) Kevin Rudd, as Tintin (accompanied by Snowy). This has been resolved by promising to not profit from any sales of cartoons from this series.

Jeffrey Smart
"I like living in the 20th century.. to me the world has never been more beautiful. I am trying to paint the real world I live in, as beautifully as I can with my own eyes."

Morning, Yarragon siding 1982-84
Jeffrey Smart (born 1921 in Adelaide), is an expatriate Australian painter, who is known for his modernist depictions of urban landscapes.
His first goal was to become an architect; however, he went on to become an art teacher after studying at Adelaide Teacher's College and the South Australian School of Art and Crafts. Smart taught art in schools for the South Australian Education Department from 1942 - 1947.
He later studied in Paris with Fernand Léger as well as at La Grande Chaumière. He began exhibiting frequently in 1957. In 1965 he moved to Italy and bought the house where he still resides, Posticcia Nuova, near Arezzo in 1971. His autobiography, "Not Quite Straight" was published in 1996. A major retrospective of his works travelled around Australian art galleries from 1999.

Kate Turner
"I consider my painting to be Post Modern Feminist Statements/Symbols."

Dip. Art. Ed.
Post Grad. Illustration
Kate has taught Visual Art in various NSW high schools over 14 yrs. Exhibitions have been at Von Bertough's Gallery
Buchanan Gallery
Lake MacQuarie Council
Kate's works also have been exhibited at Gumleaf,Traders of the Lost Art, Weston Art Show,Raymond Terrace Art Show, Earthquirks,
Menken Historical Society, Morpeth Gallery, the Mater Calvery Hospice.

Eric Smith

Self Portrait
(born 1919) is an award winning Australian artist. Smith has won many of Australia's major art prizes multiple times including the Archibald Prize for portraiture three times; the Wynne Prize twice; the Sulman Prize three times; and the Blake Prize for Religious Art six times.
Smith was born and raised in Brunswick, Melbourne. At the age of 17 Smith undertook the study of Commercial Art and Painting at the Brunswick Technical School and joined the Victorian Artists Society. In 1940 Smith joined the Australian Army for the remainder of the Second World War. Upon the end of the war, Smith returned to Melbourne and pursued his artistic ambitions. In 1945, a self portrait painted on an army canvass was runner up for the Archibald Prize. In 1956 Smith had his work shown in the Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, during the "Direction" exhibition. The success of this exhibition led to Smith's work being included in the 1963 exhibition of Australian art shown at the Tate Gallery in London. Whilst in London in 1963, Smith gained further international recognition after winning the Helena Rubenstein Art Award.
Smith's winning 1981 portraiture of the Archibald Prize caused a controversy amongst the art world. In 1975 John Bloomfield winning entry was disqualified due to his portraiture of Tim Burstall being painted from a photograph. It is a condition of entry that all portraits be painted from life rather than interpretations of photographs. Bloomfield asserted that Smith's portraiture of Rudy Komon resembled a photograph taken of the subject in 1974 and hence in breach of the competitions requirements. Bloomfield threatened legal action to prevent the prize being awarded to Smith. The controversy subsided when gallery director /art dealer Komon came to the defense of Smith and said he had sat for Smith many times over the previous twenty-one years.

Charles Billich

Born Sep 6, 1934
Charles Billich (born 1934, in Lovran, Istria, Croatia) was named Artist of the 1996 Summer Olympics. He is the recipient of the 2000 Sport Artist of the Year Award presented annually by the American Sport Art Museum and Archives.
He was named Designated Artist 2001 Centenary Nobel Peace Prize.
Inspired by his work entitled The Beijing Cityscape, the official image for the successful Beijing bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Charles Billich conceived a sensational series of images based on the Bing Ma Yong Terracotta warriors. So well received has this work been that Bing Ma Yong images are represented on a collection of 16 postage stamps currently in circulation in China, adding to the cultural worth of this collection.
Charles Billich Gallery

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


18 comments: to “ Top 10 Favourite Australian Artists so far...

  • Mariuca 8.7.08

    ALAKAZAM!!! The genies are back, and this time, we have the Magic Lamp of Luck for you! :)

  • Anonymous 8.7.08

    Wow! Some great artists to check out there Kim. Thanks for that. I liked all of them, such talent...
    Didn't see Kim Barker in there though? :-)

  • Amy Lilley Designs 8.7.08

    my goodness Kim, you really challenge your is going to take a couple of days to digest all these gifted artists...Jaiwei Shen grabbed my attention, but I'm going to take the time to look @ all of them...and yes, very, very inspiring all around..thank you for taking the time to put this post together...

  • Kim 8.7.08

    hi Mariuca...
    thanks...I'll be over today :)

    hi Diane..
    glad you enjoyed... :) and I'm quite happy not to be in the list ;)

    Jiawei Shen's work is breathtaking Amy...especially IRL.. and to think he is self taught too ...
    thanks for submitting this post to Digg...that's very kind of you...
    I'm amazed at how clever you are !!!
    considering your profile at Digg says that you are only 1 year old
    how did you get past the Digg gestapo???

  • Anonymous 8.7.08

    Very insightful and inspirational Kim. I love it! It is so interesting to see art from people of a different culture to see how they interpret modern events.

    I love the quote in the Bill Leak section.

  • Anonymous 8.7.08

    These are all fascinating. Thanks for taking the time to share them with us.

  • Kim 8.7.08

    hi Boyd
    thanks so much for calling by ...
    yeah Bill Leak is a real larrikin and an A1 cartoonist as well....
    very gifted portrait painter too !!!!

    thanks for calling by Cooper...:)

  • Anonymous 9.7.08

    Hello Kim of the Laketrees Artist Association,

    Did Charles Billich hire you to be his "For Your Eyes only" model? ;~)

    While I am on vacation, did you try Miss Moneypenny's Popsicle treat when you posed? :~))

  • Kim 9.7.08

    I hope your vacation was a blast Miss MP!!
    and no I didn't get to try THAT popsicle treat!!
    I haven't been asked to pose either..but I can live with that...seeing he prefers to draw nudes ;) :)

  • durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit 9.7.08

    Hello Kim,

    Wow! This is a 10 course smorgasboard of artists Kim, and with distinctive details of their work and awards. Excellent and well researched post!

    It would take me weeks to gobble up all of these and be able to distinguish which work was done by what artist.LOL! I'm afraid my artistic hard drive within my head needs additional memory, something into the terabyte size. :-)

    How come Kimberly Barker, my favorite and top Australian artist is not part of this? That's unfair! LOL!

    Also, Bill Henson is not included? LOL!
    Have a nice day Kim, and I hope you enjoy Mama Mia! Then you'll know who was not sterile of the 3 men in the woman's stormy past. :-) --Durano, done!

  • Kim 10.7.08

    thanks Durano..
    I could have listed more artists but I tried to keep the post to a reasonable length...
    I hope you don't get artistic overload reading this :) :)
    lol Bill Henson...grrr ...don't start me on THAT topic again ..:D
    getting on the soapbox once a year is enough for me...
    or perhaps twice a year....:)

  • John M. Mora 10.7.08

    I prefer the works displayed here for Paul Newton and Paul Leak and Jiawei Shen.

    The Newton picture is a a slam dunk because of the attractive subject so to so extent it is not fair. Like shooting ducks in a barrel given his talent. But beauty aside it is still striking.

    The Leak portrait is alive and you get a sense of a dynamic subject. Very strong and "modern."

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Kim 10.7.08

    hi John
    good choices..
    I'm a great fan of Paul Newton's work and I think this portrait is as you say a slam dunk..
    Bill Leak's portrait is very powerful and the subject is the son of Australia's most memorable Prime Minister ..Gough Whitlam...
    I've seen Jiawei Shen's work IRL and it is truly breathtaking..
    thanks for your in depth critique :)

  • rkdsign88 12.7.08

    Thanks for sharing & spending time to write this news

  • Anonymous 13.7.08


    the Kylie Minogue remindz me of a Paul Peel After the Bath*

    Is Helena Rubenstein the Cosmetics Lady??

    the #2 Morning, Yaragon siding by Jeffery Smart remindz me of 2 Australian Flickr Photographers Kent Johnson + st@rt *******

    ;)) Peace*

  • Kim 13.7.08

    hi Billy
    yes Helena Rubenstein was the cosmetics lady..
    she was the rival of Canada's Elizabeth Arden...fascinating story...
    I can see the similarity to Paul Peel's work...same lighting and atmosphere...
    thanks for pointing out the 2 Australian Photographers....they have the same sort of stark reality present in their work...
    thanks for calling by Billy...have a sensational weekend :) :)

  • Anonymous 10.1.09

    Portrait artist Paul Newton. The given links of site was amazing, Wow cool portraits.

  • Lisa Lorenz 2.12.09

    Thanks for the share. What a great collection of artists. I could spend hours just cruising their portfolios. Thanks again.

About The Author
Kim Barker is a Visual Artist (Diploma in Art and Graduate Diploma in Education). She is also a fully trained Reading Recovery Teacher. She has taught RAD (Royal Academy of Dancing) and Cecchetti Ballet Syllabii. Kim also manages the Top Artist' Directory and PoeARTica as well as her blog laketrees She lives with her family on the Eastern Central Coast of Australia. Follow Kim at laketrees on Twitter for updates and news