Artist An­drew Bon­neau cap­tures pearl vir­tu­oso Nicholas Pas­pa­ley Jr.

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Artist An­drew Bon­neau cap­tures pearl vir­tu­oso Nicholas Pas­pa­ley Jr.

Paint­ing the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Aus­tralia’s most fa­mous pearl farm­ing fam­ily is no easy task, as artist An­drew Bon­neau dis­cov­ered, trav­el­ling more than 2,500 kilo­me­tres to per­fectly cap­ture Nicholas Pas­pa­ley Jr.

Cairns-based Bon­neau spent a week at the Pas­pa­ley fam­ily home in Wagga Wagga with his muse be­fore bor­row­ing his sit­ter’s shirt to place on a man­nequin for fin­ish­ing touches in his stu­dio back in Cairns. Then it was a visit to the pearls, of course, in Syd­ney.

“He is a bit of a night owl, so each night we would all have din­ner to­gether and then spend three or four hours in a paint­ing ses­sion, chat­ting, drink­ing jas­mine tea and lis­ten­ing to mu­sic,” re­calls Bon­neau. “I painted the head from life and sketched in the hands and body. I then took the can­vas back to my stu­dio [in Cairns], set up his shirt on a man­nequin and painted it. I was also able to spend five days at the Pas­pa­ley pearl room in Martin Place, Syd­ney, paint­ing the pearls from life.”

Bon­neau, a grad­u­ate of the Na­tional Art School and fi­nal­ist in the pres­ti­gious Doug Mo­ran and Archibald na­tional por­trait prizes, beau­ti­fully blends na­ture and light with tra­di­tional por­trait paint­ing to bring his sub­jects to life.

The artist and sit­ter were matched to­gether by the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery (NPG) as part of a spe­cial com­mis­sion se­ries of 20 por­traits called 20/20 – which also in­cludes singer Jes­sica Mauboy by David Roset­zky and ac­tress Jacki Weaver by John Tsi­avis – to cel­e­brate the Can­berra in­sti­tu­tion’s 20th an­niver­sary. Next year the NPG will also in­tro­duce the Dar­ling Por­trait Prize, a new an­nual por­trait prize for Aus­tralian painters paint­ing Aus­tralian sit­ters, worth $75,000. 20/20 can be seen at the NPG un­til Fe­bru­ary 10, 2019. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.por­

An­drew Bon­neau’s paint­ing of Nicholas Pas­pa­ley Jr will be on dis­play at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery in Can­berra next year.

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