Loribelle Spirovski met distinguished actor and director John Bell earlier this year when he and her partner, classical pianist Simon Tedeschi, were performing Enoch Arden (Tennyson’s epic poem set to music by Richard Strauss).
‘It should come as no surprise that painting a man such as John Bell was a daunting experience. He’s renowned for his work with Bell Shakespeare (the company he founded the year I was born) and I was immediately drawn to that powerful, chiselled face with its deep-set features and inscrutable personality,’ says Spirovski.
‘When he sat on the antique chair in the home he shares with his wife and fellow actor Anna Volska, he occupied the space with a contented regality and it was clear that any costume or prop would be superfluous.’
Spirovski opted for a minimal background ‘to draw the viewer to that intense gaze, while the flesh colours are heightened by the distinctive gleam of the Australian sun’.
Born in the Philippine capital of Manila in 1990, Spirovski studied at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. Known for her portraits, she has been a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Art Award and the Black Swan Art Prize. This is her first time in the Archibald Prize.