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Leslie Rice

Hill End bacchanal (portrait of Luke Sciberras)
acrylic on black velvet
183 x 122 cm
Further information

Luke Sciberras is a renowned artist, known mainly for his paintings of the Australian landscape. He is a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize.

‘Luke and I have been mates for a few years now. On a visit to his home in Hill End, we came up with the idea of me painting his portrait,’ says Leslie Rice.

‘I was working on a series of paintings based on the bacchanalia, the Roman festival of Bacchus, and I was reminded of the paintings Donald Friend made, which set the drunken revelry of Bacchus and his followers against the bucolic but somewhat rugged Australian outback of Hill End.

‘Luke’s penchant for entertaining and his famous wine-soaked Hill End gatherings suggested the painting, which is set on Luke’s property, with him being crowned as the god of wine and revelry.’

Rice frequently paints dark subjects on black velvet, with the image slowly emerging from the shadows as your eyes adjust.

‘Generally, my choice of black velvet as a painting surface provides a platform for painting that mimics the dramatic tenebrism of 17th-century art, as well as having connotations of flea-market kitsch,’ says Rice.

Born in Sydney in 1976, Rice worked as a tattoo artist for around ten years before studying at the National Art School, where he completed an Honours degree and now teaches. He won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2007 and 2012 and was a finalist in the Sulman Prize in 2013 and the Archibald Prize in 2008 and 2012.