November 18, 2021

Judges' Scorecard: Ken Done

This curation features forty entries nominated by judge Ken Done for the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 across eight categories including abstract, portrait and landscape, as well as Ken’s five favourites overall.
First up is Kelly Napanangka Michaels’ Mina Mina Jukurrpa, which is also his leading pick in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander category. The acrylic painting features high-contrast, warm-hued elliptical patterns juxtaposed against black negative space. "An intriguing pattern that grows more interesting the more you look at it," Ken noted. "And isn't this the mark of a good painting?"
Ken's second choice is Fury by Robert Hagan. In this landscape oil painting, Australian stockmen round up bush brumbies over an unlevel mountain stream. "Worth every cent. This dynamic painting conveys everything about the moment."
Up next is oil painting Shadowbloom Series: One, a submission in the still life category. "To paint these beautiful flowers in black and white shows how fabulous the shapes of the blooms are and makes a dynamic pattern across the canvas."
In contrast, simplicity, strength, and directness are the strengths of Mirror into Mirror by Loribelle Spirovski. Nominated fourth, this entry in the portrait category was also featured in fellow judge Kathrin Longhurst’s top five. With soft, jewel-like colours against a black backdrop, the oil painting brilliantly captures a sense of pathos expressed by the male subject during the lockdown. "Incredibly competent portrait. It's simple, strong, direct and brilliantly executed."
“Be there soon”, is the English translation of the fifth nomination titled in Bahasa Indonesia, Berada di Sana Segera by Natalie Uhrik. An acrylic painting in the abstract category, the work is meditative and reflects silence, expressing the artist’s desire to travel freely. "An intriguing image that involves the viewer in multiple decisions. A complicated and beautiful work."
Explore the rest of Ken’s picks across all eight categories: Photography, Portrait, Still Life, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander, Abstract, Landscape, Digital and Sculpture.

Curated by Ken Done

59.4cm (W) x 42cm (H)


180cm (W) x 120cm (H)


105cm (W) x 105cm (H)


120cm (W) x 160cm (H)


152.4cm (W) x 121.8cm (H)


122cm (W) x 152cm (H)


26cm (W) x 16cm (H)


61cm (W) x 61cm (H)


About the Curator

Ken Done

Since his first solo exhibition in 1980, Ken Done has become one of Australia’s most famous artists. His work has been described as the most original style to come out of Australia, and his paintings are in collections throughout the world.
Born 29 June, 1940, in Sydney, Ken left school at 14 to enter the National Art School in East Sydney. After 5 years study, he commenced a highly successful career as an art director and designer in New York, London and Sydney.
At the age of 40, after painting for many years, he gave up his advertising career to become a painter full-time. Since then, he has held over 100 one-man shows, including major exhibitions in Australia, Europe, Japan and the USA. His works have been shown in the Archibald, Sulman, Wynne, Blake, and Dobell Prizes.
In 1991, a major touring exhibition in Japan attracted over 200,000 visitors. The artist's first European exhibition was held in Paris in 1996, to great acclaim, and in 2000 the art of Ken Done was successfully premiered in both Los Angeles and London.
Major projects in a very diverse career include the painting of a BMW Artcar, and the total decorative scheme for the Garden Restaurant at the Powerhouse Museum, in Sydney. In 1994, a major retrospective of Ken Done's work "Ken Done: the art of design" was mounted by the Powerhouse Museum. In 2002 the Museum acquired his commercial art and design archive of more than 300 items.
In 1988, Hanako, a Tokyo fashion and lifestyle magazine, was launched, and featured a Ken Done painting on the cover every week for over 15 years. In 1999, Done was asked to create a series of works for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies programs of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Ken's paintings became the creative source of a unique, and highly successful Australian business which continues to promote Australian art and design to a world-wide audience.
In 1993, Ken, together with his wife Judy, won the Fashion Industries of Australia's Grand Award for Fashion.
Although he has worked extensively for many charitable organisations, the welfare of underprivileged children has always been a special concern of Ken's. Father of the Year in 1989, Ken Done has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 1988.
Ken received the Order of Australia (A.M.), for services to Art, Design and Tourism in 1992. In many parts of the world, Ken Done has come to symbolise Australia and Australians: creative, optimistic and bold.

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