PIERMARQ* artist Matthew Kentmann has been selected as a finalist for the 2021 Archibald Prize held by the Art Gallery of NSW. The Archibald is widely considered the most prestigious portrait prize in Australia. Of the 938 applicants, 52 paintings were shortlisted in this year's prize. Kentmann's small scale portrait of Leslie Rice titled 'Les' was selected as one of the 52 finalists. Kentmann met the painter and former tattoo artist Leslie Rice when they were finalists in the 2015 Archibald Prize. Rice is known for his dark, brooding paintings, sometimes painted on black velvet.
‘Les projects a robust, cultivated aesthetic and identity, both in person and in anything he has a hand in – whether it’s a tattoo, drawing, painting or film role,’ says Kentmann. ‘To make the portrait, I worked from life initially and later tapped all available resources. But the most constructive information came from spending time with Les. ‘I worked on sized linen because of its raw, earthy quality, and underpainted it with a burnt sienna, which suggests clay and dried blood. I wanted a tenebrous portrait because that resonated with my perception of Les. He has depicted his own head severed and presented on a platter, alluding to the Biblical stories of Judith and Holofernes and John the Baptist. But after recently spending time with Les, I saw him as closer to Lazarus with his spirit of hope and promise.’