Zion’s second brush with $100,000 Archibald Prize
IT TOOK around 20 years of hard work and immense talent for a prolific Northern Rivers artist to become an overnight sensation at the 2019 Archibald Prize.
Last year Zion Levy Stewart's 2019 eye-catching portrait of Aboriginal elder, artist, musician and educator Walangari Karntawarra, was selected for show in the Salon des Refusés at TAP Gallery in Sydney's Surry Hills.
He was thrilled, especially since the gallery offered him a solo exhibition.
Now Mr Stewart ‒who has Down syndrome and is largely non-verbal ‒ is working on his portrait of his mentor and friend Noel Hart, who is himself a gifted glass artist and abstract painter, for the 2020 Archibald Prize.
Mr Stewart's mother Christine Levy said her son's entry in Australia's premier annual art competition worth $100,000 was quite simply "amazing."
"Zion has really caught the essence of Noel," she said.
"His vibrant art speaks volumes for his love of life and people, he was a late starter taking up painting aged 20, but oh boy, has he caught up."
Ms Levy said as soon she received notification from Art Gallery NSW of the August deadline, "it's been all systems go".
"As soon as he found out he started doing some initial sketches on canvas and we hope he'll be finished his portrait well before deadline of August 14," she said.
"We're able to pay Noel for his time using Zion's NDIS funding, which is fantastic given all the support he's given Zion."
Mr Stewart's distinctive naive and colourful artwork has appeared in many group and solo shows and his work is held in private art collections in the US and the UK, as well as having a solid following in Australia.
Although the pandemic forced the cancellation of his planned major exhibition, Mr Stewart recently contributed fresh artworks for an exhibition hosted by Byron School of Art at its Mullumbimby Project Space Drive-In Gallery. and resulted in several sales for the artist.
The Archibald Prize finalists and the Packing Room Prize winner will be announced on 17 September, with the winner announced on 25 September.
To see Zion's artwork, go to www.zionart.com.au or visit his Facebook page.