‘Honest’ Jimmy Barnes portrait wins Archibald Packing Room Prize

The portrait of the legendary musician took top prize. Source: Twitter/Art Gallery of NSW.

A gripping portrait of popular Aussie singer Jimmy Barnes, inspired by his past mental health battles, has won the Archibald Packing Room Prize.

The colourful and detailed artwork, by first-time finalist Jamie Preisz, was announced as the winner of the annual competition on Thursday, and received praise for its raw appeal and honest portrayal of the once-troubled singer.

The portrait shows Barnes, 62, in a white singlet top, wrapping bandages around his knuckles as if he’s ready to take to the ring. With a small tattoo on one arm, he looks down in the dumps in the startlingly realistic scene.

Speaking about his inspiration for the portait, Preisz said: “Jimmy’s openness and honesty about his own struggles [with mental health issues] was the inspiration for this piece and hopefully an inspiration to the Australian public.”

The Packing Room Prize is judged by staff who receive the portraits and hang them in the gallery.

Archibald curator Anne Ryan told ABC’s 7.30 this week that it’s “more akin to what our everyday visitors might appreciate and enjoy.”

Barnes has always been open about his battles with mental health. The star shared his troubles with poverty, addiction and domestic violence in his first book, Working Class Boy – before admitting in his second book, Working Class Man, that he once attempted suicide.

It comes after a portrait of Wilkinson took home the $1,500 top gong in 2017.

The portrait was created by Peter Smeeth. That came after his portrait of Jean Kittson was selected as a finalist in the 2016 Archibald Salon DesRefusés while his portrait of Wilkinson’s husband, author and journalist Peter FitzSimons, was an Archibald prize finalist in 2010.

Smeeth said there were multiple reasons Wilkinson made a great subject for his latest artwork.

“Appearing on television every weekday morning makes Lisa one of the most recognisable people in Australia and an obvious choice for the Archibald Prize,” Smeeth said. “Being such a high achiever and a great role model for women adds to her appeal as a subject. Television brings its subjects into your living room – and here, I have done that literally as if Lisa is in the viewer’s space.

“Three important things in Lisa’s life are her family, television presenting and print journalism so I have placed her between a television and a magazine, while her family members are reflected on the screen. I wanted to convey the idea that when Lisa is not on television, her family is her focus.”

Do you think it was a worthy winner?

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