2021 Geelong contemporary art prize
The 2021 Geelong contemporary art prize is a signature event that showcases the diversity and excellence of Australian contemporary painting practice. In the Gallery’s 125th anniversary year, the 2021 iteration is the latest in a series of acquisitive painting prizes that have been staged since 1938. Through these prizes, the Gallery has amassed an exceptional representation of Australian paintings whilst supporting contemporary practitioners.
In 2021, 28 works by leading and emerging Australian artists have been shortlisted for the 2021 Geelong contemporary art prize. Showcasing the best of contemporary Australian painting practice, this $30,000 acquisitive award and biennial exhibition will feature works by Brett Colquhoun, Jason Cordero, Greg Creek, Jonathan Crowther, Carolyn Eskdale, Diena Georgetti, Julia Gorman, Peter Graham, Helga Groves, Pei Pei He, Linda Judge, Mark McCarthy, Laith McGregor, Jennifer Mills, Jan Murray, Jan Nelson, Rose Nolan, Stieg Persson, Rosslynd Piggott, Bundit Puangthong, Jo Reitze, Norm Stanley, Guy Stuart, Andrew Taylor, Nat Ward, Jenny Watson, Louise Weaver and Peter Westwood.
Selectors for the 2021 prize were Grazia Gunn, art historian and curator; Jenepher Duncan, art historian and curator; and Jason Smith, CEO and Director, Geelong Gallery.
Viewers are advised that one work in this exhibition contains explicit terminology that some viewers may find challenging.
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Diena Georgetti was awarded the $30,000 Geelong contemporary art prize
Melbourne-based artist Diena Georgetti has been awarded the 2021 Geelong contemporary art prize for her painting AMPERSAND 2020.
The selection panel included eminent art historians and curators, Jenepher Duncan and Grazia Gunn and Geelong Gallery Director & CEO, Jason Smith, who were drawn to AMPERSAND for its conceptual poise and eloquent formal composition.
The painting extends Diena Georgetti’s idiosyncratic approach to picture-making as she assembles and juxtaposes abstract images and references to art historical precedents, along with modernist aesthetics, including design and fashion. These reference points are drawn from books, archives and the internet, and function as Georgetti’s eclectic image-bank, but her sources remain elusive. It is a creative process of sampling that reworks real and archival fragments in the spirit of historical collage while exploring the literal and metaphorical ways in which images are framed for the viewer.
AMPERSAND is an enigmatic and compelling work, melding formal painterly references to both analytical and synthetic Cubism, with a fugitive figuration that recalls the Classical nude pose and the enfolding pathos of Henry Moore’s sculpture and drawing. The central configuration of this painting reflects the inward twist and turn of its title AMPERSAND, that archaic sign for notating the endless possibilities of the word ‘and’ to a thought or narrative. Above all, the judges agreed that a relevant contemporary humanism pervades AMPERSAND, opening-up this precisely constructed but poetic image to many readings and interpretations.
The judges also wish to acknowledge the contemporary relevance and excellent quality of the works of the twenty-eight finalists who were selected from an Australia-wide field of over 600 entries, and who are among the country’s finest established and emerging artists.