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

Danie Mellor A portrait of intimacy

acrylic on board with gesso and iridescent wash

93 x 60 cm

The subject of Danie Mellor’s painting is Gene Sherman, a philanthropist, art collector and academic who ran Sherman Galleries in Sydney’s Paddington for 21 years. She is also renowned for her passion for design and fashion.

‘This work explores Gene’s relationship with aesthetics and her emotional journey following the passing of her husband Brian Sherman in 2022,’ says Mellor.

‘To communicate Gene’s avant-garde sensibility in her portrait, l chose Alesso Baldovinetti’s 1465 Portrait of a lady in yellow as the basis for the composition. It also provides a reference to Renaissance engagement with culture and openness to ideas, and a way of showing her lifelong contribution to the arts.

‘Gene is painted in profile, echoing the pose of Baldovinetti’s sitter, enigmatically reflecting on the passage of life. The faint presence of the lady together with Gene symbolises the continuing, intergenerational nature of culture and history, and the tradition of portraiture.’

‘I called it A portrait of intimacy as it felt like a reflective, introspective piece, especially given its muted palette and heightened sense that we are glimpsing Gene’s inner self.’

This is the first Archibald portrait from Mellor, a prize-winning artist whose works are in many public and private collections. He is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize.

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