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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Peter Powditch



Mitch Cairns


1984 -


Mitch Cairns' distinctive formal idiom is characterised by a restricted palette, graphic sensibility, and playful dialogue between abstraction and figuration. Cairns painted this portrait of Peter Powditch for the 2015 Archibald Prize. Powditch is a renowned painter who was the winner of 1972 Sulman Prize and his work can be found in the collections of most state-run institutions in Australia, including AGNSW.

Cairns has said of the work:

“I was drawn to the idea of painting Peter after attending the recent Pop to popism exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW. The inclusion of Powditch’s Seascape II to my mind reaffirmed the significance of his work.

“In general, Peter’s work is characterised by a directness of purpose, exemplary draftsmanship and an incisive approach to painting problems. He is an unapologetic image-maker.

“On accepting my invitation to sit, I spent a couple of days with Peter making drawings at his home and studio on the NSW North Coast. For this portrait, I chose to paint him in his studio. It had been raining heavily during my visit so the room was quite dark. We had a great conversation about his most recent assemblages. The beauty found and pleasure taken in the discovery of shape, here in the assemblages and also reminiscent of Seascape II, was the starting point of this painting.”




Media category


Materials used

oil on linen


137.0 x 122.0 cm canvas; 139.7 x 124.8 x 4.4 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Acquired with funds provided by the AGNSW Board of Trustees 2015


Not on display

Accession number


Archibald Prize

- 2015

Artist information

Mitch Cairns

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Christopher Allen, The Australian, 'Brash blooms as big shrinks', pg. 14, Sydney, 10 Jul 2015, 14 (colour illus.).

John McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Not just a pretty face', pg. 17-18, Sydney, 18 Jul 2015-19 Jul 2015, 16, 17 (colour illus.). Spectrum supplement

John Saxby (Editor), Look, 'New acquisition', pg. 10, Sydney, Feb 2016, 10 (colour illus.).

Andrew Taylor, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Critics pick frontrunners', pg. 18, Sydney, 11 Jul 2015-12 Jul 2015, 18 (colour illus.).