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2 works selected as finalists for the 2020 Percival portrait prize

This year's Percival portrait prize have selected two paintings by Dagmar Cyrulla. Her imposing work, 'I am woman' was selected alongside her smaller, 'Disguised with red wig and red boots' painting. The artist's statement for both works is below.

I Am Woman

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.

Disguised with red wig and red boots

I have been painting self portraits for a long time. It is a way for me hone my skills painting from life but also to be completely present in the moment. No dynamic of a sitter. Unlike some of the early female self portraits painted in the 17th century, this painting is not feminine or adhering to conventions of how a woman should portray herself. The pose is quite masculine. It is a matter of fact portrait, here I am. I chose to wear a wig and red boots and title it 'Disguised', simply because I had been doing a lot of self portrait nudes and painted it, tongue in cheek. I thought I would have some fun with a red wig and red boots for a change.The portrait says a lot about me, the charms on my bracelet, the ring on my finger and the paintbrush in my hand.

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