An image of Janet Laurence

John Beard

(Wales, Australia 1943 – )

Janet Laurence

Not on display
Further information

Janet Laurence’s work has been described as echoing architecture while retaining a sense of the instability and transience found in nature; John Beard’s artist portraits share similar qualities. While painting the structure, or architecture, of his sitters’ heads and faces, he also aims to capture a sense of fleeting, ever changing expression.

From this collaboration of artists and artists-as-subject, a kind of double portraiture is possible. Without the use of colour to highlight the differences or similarities between the subjects, Beard focuses the viewer’s attention not just on the individual sitter but on the structure of the painting itself. Light also plays an important role, allowing the eye to move around the forms to fully appreciate their sculptural qualities.

Beard is a painter of the late 20th century whose subject is as much painting itself as the object he renders. In the history of portrait painting there is a fascinating debate that goes back to the mid 19th century. This is the question of authenticity of the image. It is not an issue of faithfulness to the illusion, but to a kind of presence that is realised through the fracture of the work.

Beard was awarded the 2007 Archibald Prize for this portrait of Janet Laurence. This work was acquired by the Gallery in 2007.

oil and wax on linen
180.0 x 180.0 cm
Purchased 2007
Accession number
© John Beard