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Winner: Packing Room Prize 2009
Flacco is the comic creation of stage and film actor Paul Livingston. A verbal gymnast with a wondrously absurd, sorrowful take on life, Flacco is known and loved for his appearances on television shows including Good news week and two Flacco and the Sandman specials for the Ten Network, and The big gig and Daas Kapital for the ABC.
From 1998 to 2001, Livingston produced a regular cartoon for The Australian Magazine called The Flacco Files, which later appeared as a book. He has written a novel (The dirt bath) and often appears with the Sandman (Stephen Abbott) as a guest celebrity speaker for the Art Gallery of NSW’s Art After Hours program.
Paul Jackson first came across Flacco when he saw him performing with the Sandman at Belvoir St Theatre in the mid 1990s. Comparing Flacco to a court jester, Jackson believes that the character “walks the knife-edge of success and failure every time he steps on stage with his risqué punning and cut-and-thrust dialogue, not easily embraced by the timid. Ironically, I found Paul himself to be a self-confessed timid man, so his suit may represent a suit of armour or perhaps a straitjacket.”
So what of Flacco’s chariot? “Do we not all long to be transported by something in our lives that will carry a special significance and leave us with indelible fond memories?” asks Jackson. “Do we not carry within our ‘chariot’ the baggage that we think we need for the journey? Here I use the chair as a manifestation of the chariot and have adorned it with cartoons from The Flacco Files. The brown mice that undermine Flacco’s dignity by gnawing at his chair are often depicted in his lexicon of ideas.”
Born in Auckland in 1950, Jackson now lives in Sydney. He exhibits regularly in New Zealand and Australia in both solo and group exhibitions and is represented in many public and private collections around the world. This is his sixth time in the Archibald Prize. In 2006, he won the Archibald People’s Choice Award with a portrait of actor Garry McDonald battling depression.