Local artist finalist in Archibald Prize

LOCAL artist Imants Tillers has just received the amazing news that he is a finalist in not one, but two of Australia’s most presigious art competitions - the Archibald and Wynne art prizes.

Mr Tillers entered a self-portrait in this year’s Archibald portrait prize which is worth $75,000.

Mr Tillers won the Wynne landscape prize in 2012, with his painting, ‘Waterfall (after Williams)’.

Many in the community may not know that one of Australia’s most famous modern artists lives in Cooma. 

Mr Tillers said his prize-winning painting - ‘Waterfall (after Williams)’ is his version of the famous Australian painter Fred Williams’s painting ‘Free copy of Eugene von Guerard’s Waterfall, Strath Creek, 1862’. 

“In my work, the waterfall somehow embodies the fleeting and mysterious nature of life,” Mr Tillers said. 

“The waters of Strath Creek, after all, come from the catchments around Mount Disappointment [in Victoria].

“Super-imposed over the ever-changing movement of water, I have quoted the sentiments of a famous Indian sutra.”

The fleeting self 

Like a dream

Like a vision

Like a bubble

Like a shadow

Like dew

Like lightning

Born in Sydney in 1950 to Latvian parents, Mr Tillers moved to Cooma with his wife Jenny and their two daughters, Isidore and Saskia about 16 years ago, when he bought a 12 acre property in town.

“We often came down this way to walk in the mountains,” he said

“We were attracted to the area and by the potential of this place. We have rehabilitated it quite a bit. It was an old property and a farm which went right down to the showground.”

Mr Tillers said he likes the climate in Cooma, and the four seasons. He was attracted to the Monaro and being near the mountains.

“The Monaro is one of the most beautiful landscapes. Obviously it is an austere landscape,” he said.

“Landscape has been a predominant theme in my work, which it wasn’t before.

“I also get inspiration from the garden, an old style European garden.”

Mr Tiller’s Wynne entry this year is a large painting titled ‘Namatjira’ which pays homage to the Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjira, famous for his watercolours depicting Australian outback desert landscapes.

The Wynne Prize is awarded annually for ‘the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists.’

Winning the 2012 Wynne prize, places Imants Tillers in the ranks of some of the best known Australian painters who have previously won the prize, including Arthur Streeton, John Olsen, Lloyd Rees, Fred Williams, John Perceval, Hans Heysen, Russell Drysdale and Elioth Gruner.

However, to even be a finalist in either of the competitions is a great honour.

Previous Archibald prize winners include Ben Quilty, William Dobell, John Olsen and Max Meldrum.

Mr Tillers has exhibited widely since the late 1960s, and has represented Australia at important international exhibitions as well as exhibiting in major solo exhibitions around the world.

Mr Tillers has also won numerous international art awards and commissions.

He has been a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales between 2001 and 2009 and in 2005 he was awarded a Doctor of Letters by the University of New South Wales. 

The winners of the Archibald and Wynne prizes will be announced on March 22.

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