Tony Costa, Lindy Lee, 2019.

Tony Costa Wins 2019 Archibald Prize

Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) has named Tony Costa the winner of this year’s $70,000 Archibald Prize for Australian portraiture. Costa was recognized for his painting of Chinese Australian artist Lindy Lee, who herself was nominated for the prize in 2002 and was the subject of previous entries by artist Bin Xie in 2006 and by Kate Beynon in 2012.

Costa was the recipient of the 2014 Paddington Art Prize for landscape painting and a finalist for the Archibald Prize in 2015, 2017, and 2018. AGNSW trustees selected Lindy Lee from a pool of works by fifty-one finalists, marking the first time an Asian Australian figure has been the subject of a winning work of the Archibald Prize in its ninety-eight-year history.

“I was attracted to her wisdom, humility, courage, humor, and, above all, her deep focus regarding her art practice,” Costa said of his subject. “In my portrait of Lindy, I have kept the color minimal to avoid any visual noise. The challenge for me was to capture the energy of Lindy—the emotional over and above the physical.”

Michael Brand, director of the AGNSW, said: “Its strong, expressive painterliness and minimal palette project a sense of calm and repose, reflective of Lindy Lee’s Zen Buddhist practice.”

The AGNSW also announced indigenous artist Sylvia Ken as the winner of the $35,000 Wynne Prize and Darwin-born artist McLean Edwards as the recipient of the $28,000 Sir John Sulman Prize. An exhibition of the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman prize finalists’ work will open at the AGNSW on May 11 and will run through September 8.