Kate Beynon

Painting shirt (self-portrait)

acrylic and mixed media (Swarovski crystals) on linen
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Kate Beynon was a finalist in the 2010 and 2006 Archibald Prize, both times with self-portraits, and was Highly Commended in 2010.

‘This self-portrait is a bit different to others I’ve painted in the last few years; there’s no dragons or lion-dogs,’ she says. ‘I’ve depicted myself wearing my favourite “painting shirt”: a Frida Kahlo T-shirt my parents gave me many years ago after they’d been on an overseas trip, around the time my son Rali was born. It has a print of Kahlo’s 1939 double self-portrait The two Fridas on it, featuring two versions of herself, one in Tehuana Mexican style dress and one in European Victorian era style, in part reflecting her mixed heritage. Both figures have exposed hearts.

‘I really like working in this shirt. It feels transcultural and it seems fitting to wear it to paint! Over time, the habit of wiping the smaller brushes on my clothes while painting has left a swirly psychedelic area of multi-coloured marks. Anyone who comes over to my studio always comments on this shirt.

‘While painting this work I was thinking about the ways artists represent themselves in self-portraits, as well as what artists wear when they are in a creative zone.

‘My work has long been influenced by the Chinese paintings of my late maternal grandfather, animation, film, fashion and comic book style graphics. I also like using crystals to add another element/dimension, and here I focused them on the paint marks and the hearts.’