For the first time ever, Australia's richest artwork competition, 'The Doug Moran Portrait Prize', has awarded a 'Highly Commended' status to one of its 30 finalists' paintings. Dagmar Cyrulla's powerful semi-nude painting, "I am Woman", whilst not winning the competition, was judged strong enough to demand recognition as 'Highly Commended'. The winner of the 2017 competition was Tim Storrier's playful depiction of his artist friend McLean Edwards.
Dagmar's artists statement for this painting is copied below.
Throughout history, the body was painted for reasons of recording events through narrative, social comment, aesthetic values and beliefs of a particular time. The female form, more often than not, was painted by men for the male consumption, or gaze. As John Berger says in his book, 'Ways of Seeing', “A woman must continually watch herself. She is continually accompanied by her own image of herself….” He goes on to say that, “Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another”. This painting is a celebration of the freedom women now have to depict oneself and observe oneself. Purely and simply for me, it’s the strength that comes from observation and not taking into consideration how I would be viewed by a male observer. It is an acknowledgement to woman artists such as Frida Kahlo and Alice Neale, who used themselves as models, and paved the way for women to be self-expressed through their art and equal to their male counterparts. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, but I paint from a female perspective. This painting allows me to be present and strong, unwavering. “I am woman” and I love and value the freedom that I have in this country as a human being. We are still the lucky country.