We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Winner: Archibald Prize 2023

Julia Gutman Head in the sky, feet on the ground

oil, found textiles and embroidery on canvas

198 x 213.6 cm

The subject of Julia Gutman’s painting is singer-songwriter Montaigne, known to the artist as Jess Cerro.

‘My practice is broadly concerned with community and intimacy, so I wanted to work with someone I know well,’ says Gutman, a first-time Archibald finalist.

‘Jess and I have been friends for a few years and there is a lot of alignment in our practices; we are both interested in creating our own forms and approaches rather than strictly adhering to any one tradition. Montaigne’s work defies genres, while their mercurial soprano has become an indelible part of the fabric of Australian music.

‘In this Archibald portrait, Montaigne’s pose mimics that of Egon Schiele’s Seated woman with bent knees, a painting of his wife Edith that subverted conventional representations of femininity when he composed it in 1917,’ says Gutman. ‘Like Edith, Montaigne’s figure is distorted: at once angular and soft, representational and imagined. Montaigne sits in a vaguely suggested landscape, fragmented by a translucent screen, online and offline at once.’

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