The colour­ful world of Archibald fi­nal­ist Ja­son Phu

This Archibald fi­nal­ist is the sub­ject of Fox­tel’s lat­est art doco

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The Archibald Prize may have cel­e­brated its 96th birth­day this year, but how much do we re­ally know about this iconic Aus­tralian art event? Fox­tel has been given un­prece­dented ac­cess to the en­trants, tak­ing the view­ers be­hind the scenes fol­low­ing a group of artists and their sit­ters.

Ja­son Phu, a two-time Archibald fi­nal­ist, is fea­tured in the four-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries, as he paints West­ern Bull­dogs AFL player Lin Jong. Ja­son’s art­work deals with the mixed cul­tural iden­ti­ties of Aus­tralians, and draws upon his own cul­tural her­itage.

He grad­u­ated from the Col­lege of Fine Arts UNSW in 2011 with Hon­ours and joined the Hughes Gallery in 2013 with the in­clu­sion of a suite of works in Pa­per Trail.

He shows in group ex­hi­bi­tions in Syd­ney as well as Tai­wan and Thai­land and spends a great chunk of his work­ing life abroad in var­i­ous Asian cities hon­ing his skills. As he says, ev­ery artist works dif­fer­ently.

“The pub­lic per­cep­tion of artists is a bit of fa a cliche. It’s of­ten a male who’s paint­ing a land­scape or a hot, naked woman,” he says. “There’s a plu­ral­ity of prac­tices. I have friends ds who have a full-time job and paint as well.”

Ja­son, who was fol­lowed around by a TV crew for the pro­duc­tion of The Archibald lovesves what he does but says it is fi­nan­cially tax­ing.

“Sold art­works have never cov­ered my costs, or I might just break even, ex­cept for 2015 when I won the Sul­man Prize and that al­lowed me to spend some time in China.”

Ja­son is liv­ing in a share house in Sum­mer Hill, with a stu­dio in Alexan­dria, but trav­el­ling g back to Asia is al­ways front of mind.

“My mum is from China and Dad is from Viet­nam, so Asia is a huge part of my iden­tity,” he says. “Tra­di­tion­ally, Aus­tralian artists will travel to Europe, but there is a huge ge artist com­mu­nity in Asia.”

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