2023 Packers Prize
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Howard Smith Wharves
About the artist and artwork
Having worked as an actor for over a decade, Liam began painting in 2018 and went on to win the Lester Prize the following year.
Primarily self taught and best known for his portraiture, his application as a painter changes from day to day, from carefully constructed and crafted narratives to more gestural and emotionally intuitive responses.
‘Painting anyone is a complicated matter. The fear of unfairly representing someone often sits heavily on me. But never am I more relieved of responsibility and expectation than when I paint myself.’
Having painted many self portraits, they have become an important part of Liam’s practice. They serve as a periodic shaking off of inhibitions, time to check in with himself and reflect on any given day.
This particular portrait was painted after a month away from the studio. Worried he may have ‘forgotten how to paint all together’ the work is somewhat of an emergence from hibernation, feeling a little dusty and dazed.
This painterly portrait, with its direct gaze and fiesty brushwork, fills the frame with authenticity and raw emotion. As an actor, Nunan is able to empathise and replicate a multitude of emotional states. Here, he turns his intense pictorial gaze on himself. The result is an organic and emotionally rich work, its materiality reflecting turbulence and unease, and which portrays who both he is, and something more universal.
Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Chief Judge 2023