A portrait of openly queer actor, broadcaster, television producer, writer and DJ Faustina Agolley. This portrait is a finalist for the 2019 Archibald Prize.
I was instantly drawn to Faustina because of the strength of her convictions and her appetite for knowledge and self-development. She’s overcome depression and anxiety stemming from trauma and homophobia to rebuild her life through her creative pursuits.
This portrait began in September 2018. The preliminary sketches from our first sitting were followed by several exchanges of abstract colour sketches and feedback to understand which compositions and colours Faustina was most drawn to. Faustina’s portrait reached a stopping point when I began to feel severe pain and numbness in my hands, later diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. Unable to hold a paint brush for long periods of time, Faustina and I had a short final sitting in February during which she read me a story about her childhood fictional crush. Turns out we both had the same crush as kids, and it was a unifying moment filled with laughter.
In historical art, women of colour are often erased, or when seen, reduced to tropes as opposed to the individuals they are/were. Queer women have largely been left out altogether. Representation of queer women of colour on the walls of our cultural institutions matters.
In this portrait of Faustina, I explore the boundaries between realism and abstraction to highlight the layers and complexity of identity. My hope is that this portrait will spark dialogue and action, and help raise the profile of women of colour in the arts by amplifying voices and diversifying representation. I also hope this portrait will be wife-bait for Faustina’s future partner, she’s single ladies!
This painting has already found a good home!
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2019 Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Australia
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