LIFE WORK: Artist Gordon Syron with his oil painting ?An Immortalisation of David?. The painting was entered in the Archibald A
LIFE WORK: Artist Gordon Syron with his oil painting ?An Immortalisation of David?. The painting was entered in the Archibald A

Gulpilil portrait comes with $500,000 price tag

By JANE GARDNER

WHEN Bangalow-based artist Gordon Syron roughed out a sketch of legendary Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil in 1988, he never dreamed he would one day be asking $500,000 for it.

But that's the price tag Mr Syron has now put on the oil painting, An Immortalisation of David, which will go on display at the Fatherhood Festival art exhibition at the Bangalow A&I Hall on Saturday.

Mr Gulpilil is attending the festival and it will be the first time he has seen the painting.

Mr Syron said that when he painted David he was simply creating a likeness of his cousin's mate ? a young fella who had a habit of swimming naked in the back yard pool, causing the neighbours to complain.

"David was the first real Aboriginal I painted," said Mr Syron.

"To me, the painting represents both the past and the future because you can see in his eyes he's come a long way but he's looking even further into the future."

Mr Syron learnt to paint while serving 10 years of a life sentence in jail for killing the man who threatened to take away his father's land.

He was taught by an art forger and practised by imitating the Renaissance masters.

After his release in 1982 he focused on using his art to ignite social change, while driving taxis to pay the bills in Leichhardt, Sydney.

An Immortalisation of David was entered into the Archibald Art Prize competition in 1988, but did not win a prize.

In a strange twist of fate, artist Craig Ruddy caused controversy when his charcoal sketch of David Gulpilil won him the People's Choice award in last year's competition.

The irony of a white man winning the award for his potrait of a black man was not lost on Mr Sryon.

"You'd think a black fella would've won in the bi-centennial year (the year Mr Syron entered), but there's no way.

"I have my doubts a black fella will ever win that prize and I've vowed to never enter it again," Mr Syron said.

Although some may question the price tag attached to the painting, Mr Syron believes it's worth every cent.

Director of the Tweed River Art Gallery, Garry Corbett, said the high price was very unusual for a contemporary artist.

"It's highly unlikely it will sell for that much, but then again, art is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it, so you never know," Mr Cor- bett said.

Mr Syron sold his last painting for $9000.



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