MIXED BAG: Federal artist Bogdan Osadet with his entry in the Archibald portrait prize.
MIXED BAG: Federal artist Bogdan Osadet with his entry in the Archibald portrait prize.

Federal artist a challenge for Archibald

By SUSANNA FREYMARK, Star Correspondent

SURE it's controversial, but is it art?

Or, more precisely, is it the right sort of art for the Archibalds?

Federal artist Bogdan Osadet has decided to push the boundaries (and the patience) of judges at this year's Archibald portrait prize, entering an image of himself surrounded by slogans attacking art critics.

The prize was judged at the weekend, with the winner to be announced at the end of this week.

His self-portrait, a large mixed media piece using oils, pastels, acrylics, charcoal, ripped paintings and newspaper cuttings, including a piece from The Northern Star, is titled Honestly Arrogant Self Portrait.

The mixed media artwork, peppered with phrases such as 'art critics are failed artists', is in itself a break from the tradition of the Archibalds, which is generally restricted to painting.

That restriction last year inspired a legal challenge against Charles Ruddy's portrait of actor David Gulipilil, with painter Tony Johansen arguing that Ruddy's work was a drawing and not a painting.

The other major break from tradition in Mr Osadet's work is its subject matter.

The Archibalds call for portraits of 'a man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics'. Mr Osadet has fame in none of these areas, and said he wanted the artwork to stir up controversy.

And he wanted to extend the provocation into the public arena, with plans to hang more than 100 mobile phones, complete with wings and feathers, on trees outside the NSW Art Gallery.

Mr Osadet said he was prepared to be arrested for what he called his 'Phony Art' sound sculpture.

The self-portrait was not Mr Osadet's first foray into the Archibald competition, although it is certainly his most controversial.

He has entered the competition twice before with a portrait of Toni Pearon, from Funniest Home Videos, and with a portrait of Kevin Borrich, from The Kevin Borrich Express.

More than 700 artists across Australia were expected to enter, with only 40 chosen for exhibition and the final winner receiving $35,000.

Mr Osadet said he would be happy for the gallery to destroy or sell his artwork if it were not among the 40 to be hung in the gallery; so long as he didn't have to see it again.



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