NZ-born Sydney painter wins top art prize with Taika Waititi portrait

Source: AAP

New Zealand-born Sydney-based artist Claus Stangl has taken out one of Australia's top art honours with his portrait of Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi.

Claus Strangl's portrait of New Zealand film director Taika Waititi.

Stangl on Thursday won the Packing Room Prize, an Archibald Prize category, which is awarded by gallery staff who receive, unpack, and hang the portraits.

"I really couldn't believe it when he said that I could do it and I could paint him," Stangl said.

"He's a guy who's completely comfortable in front of the camera, as well as working behind the lens."

Head packer Brett Cuthbertson holds 52% of the vote for the Packing Room Prize and said this year would be his last on the judging panel. He will retire after 41 years with the Art Gallery of NSW.

"In this world full of war and Covid [it] is pretty miserable at times. This guy has a vision and a twisted sense of humour that we all need right now," Cuthbertson said.

The winner of the top national portrait gong - the Archibald, the country's oldest art prize - will receive AU$100,000 (NZ$110,500).

Archibald Prize entries must have been painted in the past year from at least one live sitting with the artist.

The AU$50,000 (NZ$55,250) Wynne Prize will go to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figurative sculpture, while the AU$40,000 (NZ$44,203) Sulman Prize will be awarded to the best subject painting, genre painting, or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour, or mixed media.

This year, more than 1900 entries were received for the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman prizes.

The remaining winners will be announced next Friday, May 13.