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Face off

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Sam Mitchell’s portrait, Rose Catherine Lettitia Matefeo, is one of 51 finalists (from 373 entries) for the 2020 Adam Portraiture Award – the biennial competition celebrating New Zealanders through portraiture. Annie Keig looks at some of the artists facing off.

Sam Mitchell, 'Rose Catherine Lettitia Matefeo'

In her characteristic style, Mitchell’s bright figure incorporates smaller images to highlight landmarks in the comedian’s internationally successful career. For example, the ‘Horndog’ on Rose’s collarbone represents the 2018 Best Comedy Show Award she won at the Edinburgh Fringe. She got on stage and explained that kissing nine people by the age of 26 made her ‘a total horndog.’

Other finalists include Julia Holden’s (AZ#82) portrait Crusher and Wolf. Holden has painted Whanganui glass artist Emma Camden and her daughter Lola in uniforms and skates so that they can also embody their ‘alter-egos’– two members of the West Coast Bombers roller derby team.

Julia Holden, 'Crusher and Wolf'

Sierra Roberts’ A Self Portrait, is a realistic image with a white handprint on her face and intensely emotional eyes. Roberts usually does portraits featuring people from around the world. Her work celebrates beauty perceptions from diverse cultures and seeks to unite her viewers under a common idea of shared humanity.

Sierra Roberts, 'A Self Portrait'

Dr Linda Tyler, Associate Professor Art History, Museums and Cultural Heritage, at the University of Auckland, and the competition’s first international judge, Karen Quinlan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia will choose the winner who will receive $20,000. The exhibition of finalists opens on 26 February at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery.

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