Emerging Sydney artist Evan Pank has taken the coveted first prize in this year’s Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award supported by Little Creatures Brewing, the richest and most prestigious printmaking award in Australia, for his work Keeping the Bastards Honest.
He takes out $16,000 in prize money and his print will be acquired by the City of Fremantle Art Collection. Combining screen printing and spray painting techniques, Keeping the Bastards Honest depicts the chaos and emotion of a football riot.
Evan Pank is a young artist whose work explores the influence of sport and fan culture in Australian society and politics. This was the first time he had entered the FAC Print Award. “I entered because I really wanted to reach a new audience,” Pank said. “I was ecstatic just to be named a finalist so it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet that I actually won!”
His win continues the Award’s history of recognising the work of early-career artists. This year’s judging panel – Rebecca Beardmore (NSW), André Lipscombe (WA) and Franchesca Cubillo (ACT) – praised the work for “making viewers aware of their own spectatorship, demanding the act of looking which results in deep and continual engagement.”
“The work presents the boundary between the festive and the fight in the apparent hostility unleashed by the crowd, making reference to the patriarchal fog and tribal culture of team sport,” they said.
“The images, sampled from various print sources are tied together in a suggestive fashion, heightening the intensity of gesture and reducing its politicised agency to mere spectacle and display.”
Melbourne artist Valerie Sparks was awarded second prize and $6,000 for Prospero’s Island South West, a digitally printed, moody montage creating an image of a wild dark sea, night sky and sailing ship which seems to reference grand narrative historical painting.
Sparks, known for her beautiful, technically superb composite images of the natural world, has been selected for exhibition in the FAC Print Award previously and won the 2009 People’s Choice Award.
“The juxtaposition and play between areas of light and dark are both frightening and alluring,” said the judges. “In reference to the capture of historical narratives in painting is the dark acknowledgement of the ongoing trauma of the Aboriginal peoples and natural systems impacted upon following the arrival of the white man.”
Artists Nathan Beard (WA), David Frazer (VIC), Richard Lewer (VIC) and Andrew HC McDonald (WA) were also highly commended by the judges.
The 56 finalists’ works can be viewed in the exhibition. The judges said this year’s show “offers a diverse mix of highly sophisticated, quality prints that showcase the breadth and complexity of contemporary print practice in Australia.”
The exhibition runs until Sunday 12 November.