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Geoffrey Dyer The director, John Clark

183 x 153 cm

Predominantly a landscape painter, Geoffrey Dyer only paints portraits for the Archibald Prize and likes to choose fellow Tasmanians as his subject. In 2000, his portrait of author Christopher Koch was hung in the Archibald. When Dyer subsequently had an exhibition in Sydney at the end of last year, Koch opened it. John Clark, who had gone to Hobart High School with Koch and had remained good friends with him, was there at the opening. Koch introduced him to Dyer and they ended up having dinner together.

Clark is the director of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and has been since 1969. He has directed over 50 productions there. Whilst painting his portrait, Dyer spent three days in Sydney with Clark. One afternoon, Clark showed him around NIDA. When they walked into a darkened theatre, Dyer knew he had found the setting for his portrait. “It was very dark and quite haunting,” he says. “In three days you don’t get to know a man very well but for him to survive for so long in that environment suggests something beyond superficial appearances. I wanted to paint a full stance with an almost existential feel to it and it seemed to suit him.”

Born in Hobart in 1947, Dyer studied at the Tasmanian School of Art. He has been in the Archibald Prize on four previous occasions, the Wynne Prize eight times and was a finalist in the 1997 Sulman Prize.

This work is now in the NIDA collection.