Studio Notes: My Portrait Entry for the 2019 Archibald Prize

Archibald entry 2019 Watched_Nail Aykan by Carl GopalAt last, and finally, I just finished my painting for this year's Archibald Prize last week. Nail Aykan is my subject for my second entry. He just retired from the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) after seven years as their Executive Officer and remains the most well known, respected and relatable Muslim leader in Australia when it comes to listening and explaining the experiences of the Muslim community, getting opposing views to a table with government or law enforcement and offering genuine friendship with the wider community. 

This is my second attempt, my first being a portrait I did of John Hyde, an amazing Member of Parliament back in 2010. 

It helped that I worked with Nail at the ICV for six months. His participation is a bold expression in itself. Generally speaking, leaders from diverse communities, prior to Nail may not have considered the Archibald to be something they would engagee in. Perhaps in the future more artists can look at known leaders from cultural and faith diverse Australian communities and ask to paint them too.

Nail and I went into this portrait realistically thinking, given the history of the Prize, we would be amazed if we even got into the finals. I remember it was so satisfying last year being one of 40 finalists in the Collie Art Prize in WA, for me, the finals felt almost like the main prize. The Archibald of course gets nearly 800 a year so it's quite a crowded space and we are both so happy to just participate.

This merging of cultures and faith on canvas meant representational styles and abstraction and symbolism on the canvas had to fall out of history, not be imprisoned by it, to explain his personal story.

Colour Notes: Scans are never accurate. The blue of his shirt leans a touch towards cerulean.

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