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Lord Mayor’s Prize: Urban Artists by Keith Burt

Urban Artists​

Keith Burt​

2020 Lord Mayor's Prize​

Proudly supported by
Brisbane City Council
About the artwork

I mucked around with the idea for this painting for a long time. And had several false starts. Putting two figures in a portrait isn’t necessarily easy for your composition, but in the end I found a way to make it work and executed the final piece quite quickly.

About the sitter

Matthew and Daniel Tobin started Urban Art Projects in Brisbane in 1993. Now a global company, UAP is recognised world-round as a leader in public art and architectural design solutions.

About the artist

Keith Burt is a Brisbane artist who works across landscape, portraiture and still life painting. He has been a finalist in the Archibald prize twice, first in 2017 with a portrait of QAGOMA Assistant Director, Tarragh Cunningham, and again in 2019, depicting Queensland-born writer and journalist, Benjamin Law.

Judge's Notes

Keith Burt’s painting appears modest, however, this ambitious double portrait of twin brothers is like two paintings in one. The artist skilfully balances the two portraits, ensuring that the brothers have equal prominence.

The physical likeness of the subjects is captured with an expressive brushstroke technique and a monochromatic pallet – the artist does not waste a single tone. Shades of grey and blue are deployed in a generous manner, to create form, likeness and character.

What I really love about this portrait is its subtle ambition – the discipline of colour, the confidence of the painting technique and the focus on the two sitters. A truly resolved portrait on all fronts.

Nick Mitzevich
Director, National Gallery of Australia
2020 Judge

“I wrestled with the arrangement for a long time before settling on the final "bus seat" pose. ”

Behind the scenes

Dan and Matt are great friends of mine and I have been keen to paint them for some time. 

Turns out putting two people in one portrait is quite problematic, it alters the focus and complicates the composition. I wrestled with the arrangement for a long time before settling on the final “bus seat” pose. I think it works, I want them to look visionary, as their work at UAP is.