Simon Tedeschi unplugged
2002, watercolour on canvas
It was a picture of acclaimed young Australian pianist Simon Tedeschi that first caught Cherry Hood's eye. She went to one of his concerts, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and then asked him to sit for her.
"Although I don't normally do portrait/likenesses of people, I usually paint boys or adolescent males," she says. "Simon is only 20 and he has blue eyes and the look that suits the way I make images. The eyes are always the focus of my paintings. I want them to reflect the gaze of the viewer and I prefer the way paler eyes both reflect light and have a differentiation between the pupil and iris. When I met him, it turned out that he is particularly empathetic, easy going and very sensitive artistically. He saw my work and he understood what I was doing."
Hood decided to paint him topless because, she says, "He is always portrayed in formal clothes and often with a piano as well. Images of him are usually more about his playing than about him as a person, let alone him as a sensual body. Also, at that time I was finishing a series of portraits of boys for my show at Mori Gallery. Simon saw these works and agreed to pose for me in the same way.
"It was quite easy to get him because he has strong characteristics. I think it does look like him, if not at his most rested. He keeps up a rigorous international performance schedule and lives between Sydney and London. He was suffering jet lag or in 'post concert letdown' when he sat for this painting. When he last saw the work he said, 'Love the whiskers, remind me to stop over in Bangkok next time.'"
Hood attained a Master of Visual Art at Sydney College of the Arts in 2000. Her thesis investigated gender politics in art and cultural mores and taboos surrounding the representation of the male body. Hood has since had two solo exhibitions at Mori Gallery. Prior to this, she had countless solo and group shows at university and artist-run spaces. Her works are in many collections in Australia and overseas. Hood works in the unlikely medium of watercolour to produce her uncanny portraits, which are most frequently anonymous composites. She was a finalist in the 2001 Archibald Prize with her watercolour of art lecturer Matth?s Gerber.
The Archibald Prize was established through the bequest of Jules Francois Archibald in 1921. It aims to encourage portraiture by supporting artists and celebrating the memory of great Australians. The Archibald Prize is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Jules Francois Archibald's primary aim, through his bequest of 1919, was to foster portraiture, as well as support artists, and perpetuate the memory of great Australians.
Amongst many controversies, these original aims have certainly been fulfilled and indeed many believe the Archibald Prize has done more than any other single event to stimulate and sustain public interest in the art of portrait painting in Australia.
The Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921, and over the years some of Australia's prominent artists have won, including George Lambert (1927), William Dobell (1943, 48 and 59) and Brett Whiteley (1976 and 78). The subjects of Archibald winners have been equally celebrated in their fields and include 'Banjo' Patterson, Margaret Olley, Patrick White and Paul Keating.
The Archibald Prize is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.