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The Ian Potter Museum of Art announces finalists for the $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize 2016

Richard Lewer
The theatre of sports (detail) 2016
oil on canvas
70 x 70 cm (detail of 12 panels)
©Courtesy of the artist, Sullivan & Strumpf and Hugo Michell Gallery

Today Basil Sellers AM announced the 5th and final winner of the prestigious $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne. Richard Lewer has won the award for his work titled The Theatre of Sports (2016).

Richard Lewer's The Theatre of Sports (2016) is a compendium of twelve paintings that form one work. It represents Lewer's sustained passion for art and sport, and examines the role sport can play in relation to mental illness. His practice looks at extremes of behaviour, centering in this work on the very public moments of failure of well-known sporting figures.

Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, Ms Kelly Gellatly, commended all of the shortlisted finalists for the depth of their engagement with the theme of sport and the quality of the work that they created, across media, around the theme.

“The judges were impressed by the artists’ willingness to use the theme of sport and the platform of the exhibition itself to push themselves. The contribution of each of the finalists shows a willingness to be ambitious and to take risks in their practice. This has resulted in a rich and diverse exhibition that reveals, among other things, a shared concern with the connection to community that sport provides, and an interest in the way in which sport both connects with, and is integral to, peoples’ lives; providing a sense of solace, meaning, belonging or release.”

“The winning work, Richard Lewer's The Theatre of Sports investigates the very public down side of the dedication and commitment of professional sportsmen and women: the moment of defeat. Within the work Lewer pictures recognisable sporting figures such as tennis player Nick Kyrgios, swimmer Ian Thorpe and athlete Sally Pearson captured in the immediate aftermath of loss – during moments of devastation, disbelief, frustration and distress. However, for Lewer, how this loss is handled – the mechanisms that sportspeople draw upon to deal with these situations – and the accompanying issues of anxiety and depression – are, in effect, more interesting than the loss itself. The work is both a commanding, painterly ode to a sense of vulnerability and to the emotional side of sport, while honouring the discipline of elite athletes and their ability to draw upon an inner strength that enables them to continue, and to strive for excellence, in the face of loss.”

The other 2016 finalists are: Abdul Abdullah, Dana Harris, David Ray, Eamon O'Toole, Fiona McMonagle, Grant Hobson, Jane Brown, Kate Daw and Stewart Russell, Laith McGregor, Rew Hanks, Shaun Gladwell, Trent Parke and Narelle Autio, Vipoo Srivilasa and William Mackinnon.

Over 240 artists from all over Australia submitted entries for the $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize, one of Australia's richest and most prestigious art awards. An additional $5000 Peoples’ Choice award will be voted for by visitors to the exhibition.

This year's judging panel included Basil Sellers AM; Kelly Gellatly, Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art; Dr Chris McAuliffe, consultant for the Basil Sellers Group; Maurice O’Riordan, director of the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Darwin; Christine Clark, Manager of Exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; and Chris Langford, member of the AFL Commission.

The finalists will exhibit at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne until 6 November 2016.

For media inquiries please contact:

Margee Glover
Communications and Marketing Officer
The Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne
Tel. +61 3 8344 6582
Mob. 0411 224 551

22 July – 26 October 2014
Free admission

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