The Cowra Regional Art Gallery is pleased to announce the winner of the Calleen Art Award 2022 is Canberra based artist Derek O’Connor for his painting Weather Report, 2022, oil on canvas. The Calleen Art Award is a high quality and exciting art prize founded in 1977 by Cowra art patron and collector Mrs Patricia Fagan, OAM. Since its early beginnings the Calleen Art Award has developed significantly and is now worth $25,000 through the generous support of the Calleen Trust. The winning work will join the Calleen Collection at the Gallery.
The announcement of the winner took place at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery on Saturday 8 October 2022 with over 80 visitors present including many of the 49 finalists in attendance. Guest speakers were Cr Bill West, Mayor, Cowra Shire who officially opened the exhibition and the Award Judge, Rhonda Davis, Senior Curator, Macquarie University Art Gallery who announced the winner and spoke about the exhibition and the winning painting. The award and prize money were presented by Jenni and Peter Fagan from the Calleen Trust.
I was immensely honoured to be this year’s judge of the prestigious Calleen Art Award. The high calibre of the finalists works on display made the selection process and final decision of the winner very difficult. I kept on coming back to Derek O’Connor’s large abstract painting titled ‘Weather Report’. The painting divested with an underlying force by the virtue of its activated surface, with the skilled and sensuous layering and subsequent erasure of paint in its overlapping colours and shapes brings about a three-dimensional effect that draws you into the painting space. The subtle shifts of colour and form lend a sense of discovery for the viewer to further contemplate their own experience and meaning they might assign to ‘Weather Report’. As O’Connor says he wants to ‘invite the viewer to experience, rather than read my work’.
My work is focused on the recuperation of anachronistic technologies – specifically books, combined with expressive painting. At the heart of my work lies a deep commitment to the medium of paint as a vehicle to embed meaning through a process of application and erasure. The question becomes not what to paint but how to paint. In creating this new work Weather Report (part of a body of work titled ‘Erasure and shape’) I wanted to move away from the barrage of disposable images we are constantly exposed to. The painting becomes a visual artefact of the relationship between expression and paint, artist and medium and as such needs little explanation.
I invite the viewer to look slowly rather than scan the surface, as the artwork gradually reveals figurative forms through the layering of paint and the act of erasure. Derek O’Connor. (excerpt from the Calleen Art Award exhibition catalogue).
When visiting the exhibition visitors are welcome to vote for their favourite painting in the Calleen People’s Choice Award 2022 (non-acquisitive). The winning artist will be announced at the close of the exhibition and will be awarded $1,000, courtesy of the Friends of the Gallery trust fund. The exhibition continues to 20 November 2022 at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery, 77 Darling Street, Cowra. Open: Tues – Sat, 10am – 4pm and Sun 10am – 2pm. Admission free.
Cowra Regional Art Gallery is a cultural facility of the Cowra Shire Council.
Image: Derek O’Connor with trustees and judges