Artists / Exhibitions / National Self-Portrait Prize 2015

UQ Art Museum congratulates Fiona McMonagle Winner of the National Self-Portrait Prize 2015

Victorian artist Fiona McMonagle has been awarded The University of Queensland’s 2015 National Self-Portrait Prize.

The award was judged by QAGOMA’s Curatorial Manager of Australian Art Jason Smith and
announced at the opening of the exhibition at UQ Art Museum on Friday evening, 13 November.

Fiona McMonagle’s winning artwork, One hundred days at 7pm 2015, is a single-channel, 16-second video animation of 100 self portraits – the artist painted a single portrait at 7pm every day over 100 days.

Fiona McMonagle
One hundred days at 7pm 2015
single-channel video animation
00:00:16, looped
Animator and videographer: Declan McMonagle
Courtesy of the artist; Heiser Gallery, Brisbane; and Olsen Irwin, Sydney.
Winner of the National Self-Portrait Prize 2015.

Artist Statement
Becoming is the process of change or moving toward. Everything flows – nothing stands still. I wanted to translate these ideas about time and change into this work. So, I painted one self portrait every day at 7.00 pm for 100 days. The process itself turned out to be an intrinsic part of the work. The ritual of painting one self portrait at the same time every day was an exercise in self discipline and a test of my painting skills. I had to be in the studio every day at 7.00 pm to paint my self portrait. No excuses.

Working with video but being a painter, I wanted the artwork to have a fluidity about it. As a medium, watercolour lends itself very nicely to the moving image. The challenge was to keep the self portraits as consistent as possible. I set some rules in place: I worked with a restricted palette, used a restricted number of brushes, and was not allowed to view the previous portrait when making the next.

The result: each painting is slightly different from the next – some good, some not so good. Because of these differences in the paintings and the fluid nature of watercolour, the finished work takes on a flickering effect, reminiscent of early film making. Having pasted the paintings together, the end result is a moving, blinking self portrait that the viewer can interact with on a whole new level.

UQ Art Museum Director Dr Campbell Gray said it was wonderful to see the diverse and innovative responses to the theme ‘becoming’ by 30 of Australia’s most senior artists, and many exciting newcomers.

“The self portrait is an important focus area for both collection development and exhibitions at UQ Art Museum through our National Collection of Self Portraits, and Fiona McMonagle’s work makes an important addition to the UQ Art Collection,” he said.

The $50,000 invitation-only acquisitive prize is a biennial event, curated this year by former Deputy Director of the National Portrait Gallery Mr Michael Desmond.

View more information here

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