Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

Contemporary art

View More:


Untitled study



Nick Mourtzakis

Australia, Greece

31 Aug 1951 -


This drawing is a self-portrait made over a period of a year after the death of the artist’s mother, a time of intense emotional introspection for him. It began as a study for a painting, to examine scale, format and structure. The work extended beyond this very quickly and from an initial intention to spend several hours, the drawing involved me for several months … 'The drawing was made with and without reference to the mirror, in both artificial and natural light.
The work engages the presence of mortality and grief (as well as) continuity …' (Nick Mourtzakis, 2000).

A watercolour – 'Eleni Mourtzakis, the artist’s mother' 1984 – is in the Gallery’s collection (see Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s: from the Gallery’s collection, AGNSW, Sydney, 1995, p 107).

This work won the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 2000 and was acquired by the Gallery in 2000.


Place where the work was made

Melbourne Victoria Australia



Media category


Materials used

pencil, conté, white chalk on two joined sheets of brown paper


102.0 x 75.5 cm sheet; overall; 125.5 x 96.0 x 6.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., pencil "NICK MOURTZAKIS/ 1999".


Gift of the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation 2000


Not on display

Accession number


Dobell Prize for Drawing

Winner - 2000

Artist information

Nick Mourtzakis

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Megan Backhouse, The Age, ‘The secret artist’, pg. 3, Melbourne, 13 May 2000, 96 (colour illus.).

Elizabeth Cross, Look, 'Nick Mourtzakis', pg. 18-23, Sydney, May 2007, 18 (colour illus.).

Elizabeth Fortescue, The Daily Telegraph, ‘Drawing from the migrant experience’, pg. 106, Sydney, 31 Mar 2000, 106 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'A fine harvest of drawings: legacy of an exceptional draughtsman', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Nov 2011, 30.

Hendrik Kolenberg, The Dobell Prize for Drawing: 1993-2004, ‘Introduction: the first ten years’, pg. 8-9, Sydney, 2004, 9, 30, 31 (colour illus.), 50, 53.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘Introduction’, pg. 6-14, Sydney, 2012, 7, 34, 35 (colour illus.), 60.