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Claus Stangl awarded 2022 Archibald Packing Room Prize for portrait of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi

5 May 2022

A person with short hair, dressed in a white shirt and dark jacket and tie, holds their hands up in front of their face while leaning back.

Packing Room Prize 2022 winner, Claus Stangl Taika Waititi (detail), acrylic on canvas, 245 x 195.1 cm © the artist, image © AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins

A 3D-style portrait of New Zealand film director, writer and actor Taika Waititi by Sydney-based artist Claus Stangl has won this year’s Archibald Packing Room Prize. Stangl’s painting is one of 52 finalist works from 816 entries received for the Archibald Prize 2022.

This is the fourth time Stangl has entered the Archibald Prize, and the second time he has been a finalist. The first time he was a finalist was in 2020 with his portrait of Sydney hip-hop musician Sukhdeep Singh Bhogal – better known as L-FRESH The LION.

The Packing Room Prize is a $3000 cash prize awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the Art Gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, including head packer Brett Cuthbertson, who holds 52 percent of the vote.

This year is Cuthbertson’s final year as head packer as he retires from the Art Gallery after 41 years. Cuthbertson said he was thrilled to award his final Packing Room Prize to a portrait of one of his favourite movie makers.

‘I really love Taika Waititi and his movies like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and shows like What We Do in the Shadows. I love his humour and how he sees the world in a way that other people don’t – that twisted, humorous way – and that’s the way Claus has painted the picture; it’s Taika all over,’ said Cuthbertson.

‘The painting immediately grabbed my attention, I love the look on his face and his pose. It’s the first time I’ve seen a 3D painting come in, but it’s kind of a fake 3D.

‘I’m very happy this is my last Packing Room Prize choice. I think people wouldn’t have expected me to pick this one, I usually pick more realistic-style portraits, so it’s nice to go off with a bang!’

Stangl, a self-taught artist who was born in England, said the 3D-style concept is an homage to both artist and sitter’s passion for the cinema. 

‘I wanted to create a portrait that captured Taika's sense of humour and to execute it in a playful cinematic style, reminiscent of the movies of the seventies and eighties that were popular when he was child,’ said Stangl.

‘After sharing some concepts with Taika, we landed on the idea of making a 3D-style portrait using the icon reds and greens from eighties retro cardboard glasses.

‘Painting in 3D-style was the hardest thing I have ever painted, because there’s two of everything, two of each pupil, two noses, everything shifted. But I learnt so much and it was worth it.’

Stangl captured Waititi during a sitting with the New Zealand director while he was in Sydney making the upcoming action-comedy Thor: Love and Thunder.

‘We tried a few poses, but I wanted to allow him the feeling to play and express himself,’ he said. ‘This piece is part portrait and part performance – an apt execution for a man that is as comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind it.’

Of winning the Packing Room Prize, Stangl said: ‘I'm gobsmacked and excited to receive the Packing Room Prize. It's genuinely amazing just to make it as a finalist, so to take home the Packing Room Prize is like a big cherry on an already sweet cake.’

Waititi is a director, writer, actor and producer from Aotearoa New Zealand, known for his keen eye and for the absurd. His films include Boy (2010), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). In 2020 Waititi became the first Māori person to win an Oscar with his award for best adapted screenplay for the Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit.

This year, 1908 entries were received for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. The Art Gallery also received the highest ever total number of entries by Aboriginal artists in the Archibald and Sulman prizes.

The Archibald Prize received 816 entries; the Sulman Prize received 491 entries; and the Wynne Prize received 601 entries.

This year was a record year for the Young Archie competition, which celebrates 10 years since its inception. Over 2400 entries were received – the highest ever – and a record 70 finalists from across the four age categories have been selected to be exhibited at the Art Gallery and displayed online.

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, the Young Archie competition and the Archibald Prize regional tour are all generously supported by presenting partner, ANZ.

Mark Whelan, Group Executive, Institutional at ANZ said: ‘ANZ has a proud history of supporting the arts community in Australia. This is an important award and we congratulate artist Claus Stangl on receiving the 2022 Packing Room Prize.’

The Archibald Prize, first awarded in 1921, is Australia’s favourite art award, and one of its most prestigious. Awarded to the best portrait painting, it’s a who’s who of culture – from politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes to artists.

Finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2022 were also announced today, as were the finalists for the Young Archie 2022 competition. Finalists in all Prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from 14 May to 28 August 2022.

The Archibald Prize 2022 tour will travel to six venues in Victoria and regional New South Wales, offering audiences outside Sydney the opportunity to see all the finalists works.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman 2022 exhibition page.

The 2022 Packing Room Prize was the final time Brett Cuthbertson judged the art prize, as he retires from the Art Gallery after 41 years.

Cuthbertson began working at the Gallery in October 1981, following in the footsteps of his father Blair, who worked as a security guard. Brett joined the installation team and worked his way up to Senior Installation officer, taking over as head packer five years ago after the retirement of Steve Peters.

The pair created the Packing Room Prize in 1991 'initially as a joke' and it has grown to be a popular event on the Archibald calendar.

Cuthbertson has been painted for the Archibald Prize four times ‘although sadly none have got through to be finalists.’

His all-time favourite Archibald painting was of Deborah Mailman by Evert Ploeg in 1999, which did not win the Packing Room Prize that year (it was one of the only years Peters overruled Cuthbertson), but it went on to win the People’s Choice that year and is now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Cuthbertson said one of the things he will miss the most about working in the Art Gallery is the annual drop off when artists bring in their entries for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.

‘It's the people, the artists,’ he said. ‘I love it. And there's the whole parade of them bringing the works in, and seeing them again every year... It's like a big family get-together.

'I just love the place. It's just unlike any other job.’

Cuthbertson’s replacement will be announced at a later date.

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