Artist gets subjects to open up
You won’t find two better-loved Australian entertainers than Anh Do and Jessica Mauboy.
This terrific series returns with another 10 episodes, wherein Do — comedian, actor, bestselling author and one-time fine arts student at TAFE — acts simultaneously as interviewer and portraitist.
He has to draw biographical stories out of his subject while capturing their essence on canvas — neither of which is an easy thing to do.
As it turns out, Mauboy and Do have quite a few things in common, in particular the hardships that featured in their upbringings.
Mauboy tells a story about Cathy Freeman visiting her school, which inspired her to pursue her dream of singing; Do suggests that there will be many young girls whom Mauboy has similarly inspired. Mauboy starts to tear up, and you might too.
But it’s not all serious. Mauboy admits to Anh’s Brush with Fame singing along with television commercials while growing up in Darwin — she even sings a jingle about corrugated iron.
I spoke to Do a few years ago about his painting, after he became an Archibald Prize finalist with his portrait of his father, Tam, and just ahead of his first solo exhibition at Sydney’s Olsen Irwin Gallery. The most memorable answer for me was when I asked if he’d ever painted any self-portraits, the sine qua non of self-knowledge.
“Yes, but I haven’t shown anyone,” he told me. “I look in the mirror and paint myself and usually get distracted. I have never really completed one actually … isn’t that interesting?”
At the end of each episode, he presents the completed portrait to the subject. Future episodes feature Rosie Batty, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field, Megan Gale and others. Wednesday, 8pm, ABC.
Singer, songwriter and actress Jessica Mauboy is Anh Do’s guest in