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.
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
© Nick Mourtzakis
Dobell Prize for Drawing (discontinued)
Where the work was made
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Dobell Prize for Drawing 2000, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Mar 2000–07 May 2000
The analytical portrait: works by Nikolas Mourtzakis, The Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, South Bank, 30 Mar 2004–02 Apr 2004
Slow burn: the art of Nick Mourtzakis, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, 04 Jul 2005–23 Jul 2005
Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 Years of the Dobell Drawing Prize:
- Grafton Regional Gallery 15 Feb 2013–24 Mar 2013
- Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Booragul 30 Mar 2013–05 May 2013
- Orange Regional Gallery, Orange 05 Jul 2013–18 Aug 2013
- National Art School, Darlinghurst 29 Aug 2013–06 Oct 2013
- Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah 18 Oct 2013–24 Nov 2013
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 11 Apr 2014–18 May 2014
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.