JAMES GUPPY?S Archibald Prize entry, Chagrined.
JAMES GUPPY?S Archibald Prize entry, Chagrined.

Byron artist makes Archibald exhibition

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

BYRON BAY artist and teacher James Guppy was too embarrassed to show his nude self-portrait to his SCU art students.

Now, more than 100,000 visitors to the Art Gallery of NSW will get to gawk at Mr Guppy in the nude when the Archibald Prize exhibition opens on April 30.

Yesterday it was announced that Mr Guppy's self-portrait, Chagrined, was selected from a record 852 entries to hang alongside 36 other portraits, including paintings of actors Bill Hunter and Alex Dimitriades, and works by celebrated Australian artists including John Olsen.

Mr Guppy yesterday said he didn't expect to win the $35,000 coveted art prize: "If I win and you want to find me, just look for the ambulance carting me off to hospital in shock," he joked.

Mr Guppy's acrylic paintings are usually realistic in style, often with an absurdist twist to keep viewers happy, and he expects there to be quite a few laughs when the Archibalds opens next Saturday.

Rather than an airbrushed version of himself, Mr Guppy has taken the warts-and-all approach.

"It's all about feeling embarrassed and exposed. I'm just standing there looking stupid really," he said.

"If anything I've made myself look sillier by distorting my head."

And, while he may be willing to take it all off for his portrait, life will not be imitating art at the exhibition opening.

"I'm basically a shy person,' he said.

"I've been known to take the odd skinny-dip, but that's about it."

The Archibald winner will be announced on April 29.



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