Luke Cornish wins Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award

Sydney based Luke Cornish has won this year’s Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award with a portrait of prominent artist Ben Quilty from works in the 2017 Salon des Refusés: The alternative Archibald & Wynne Prize selection.  

The portrait of Australian artist Ben Quilty was created using spray paint and stencils, multiple stencils layered up to achieve a semi photorealistic effect.

Luke Cornish said he chose to paint Ben because ‘because he is, artistically and personally, somebody that I have an enormous amount of respect for’.

“Using his high profile as an artist to speak out for those who have no voice, he has been a huge inspiration on my own practise. Nice guy too.”

National law firm Holding Redlich’s Sydney office has been a proud supporter of the Salon des Refusés exhibition and the People’s Choice Award for 19 years. Sydney Managing Partner Stephen Trew will present Luke with his award at a special event on Thursday evening.

“Congratulations to Luke Cornish for winning the People’s Choice Award for his impressive artwork,” Stephen said. “Luke is an innovative artist with a strong, distinctive style. We are so pleased to be able to support him and his work.

“Holding Redlich is a proud, long-term supporter of the arts nationally and this year marks 19 years of the Sydney office supporting the People’s Choice Award in the Salon des Refuses exhibition.”

The presentation was made at the National Trust (NSW) S.H. Ervin Gallery on Thursday 12 October.

The National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery initiated the Salon des Refusés in 1992, in response to the overwhelming number of entries submitted to the Archibald & Wynne prizes (AGNSW), yet never seen by the public. The Salon des Refusés exhibition is now in its 26th year.

Previous winners of the Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award include Nick Stathopoulos, Robert Hannaford, Guy Maestri, Margaret Woodward, Evert Ploeg, Peter Smeeth, Ann Cape, Zhou Xhou Xiaping, David Naseby, Jiawei Shen, Juan Ford, Gillian Dunlop and Zhong Chen.

The Salon des Refusés is on at the S.H. Ervin Gallery until Sunday, 15 October.


About the artist:

Luke Cornish was born in Canberra in 1979. Cornish formally known as E.L.K was the first street artist to be a finalist in the Archibald Prize (2012). Cornish, a self-taught stencil artist, creates unique, powerful images from handmade stencils. His became the first artist to be selected for the Archibald Prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils. A former blue-collar worker from Canberra, Cornish’s apathy and boredom during his mid-twenties encouraged him to start experimenting with Stanley knives and spray cans. Nearly ten years later, Cornish has literally carved his name into the public’s mind.

Using up to 85 layers of carefully hand-cut acetate, he sprays layer upon layer of aerosol paint until his images bear a striking photographic resemblance: this is a new form of hyper-realism that is unlike what has been seen before. Formally known as E.L.K, he uses the tools of a street artist to create decadent, detailed works that envelop the viewer. There is honesty to Cornish’s work, slicing back the layers and reconstructing his muses with astonishing deftness. The emotions that permeate through the eyes of his portraits have great depth, the shadows created by the stencils highlighting their anguish. His subjects all seem to share the same hardship and determination that Cornish himself has experienced, lending to a sense of dire reality in the unreality of his images.

Over the past five years he has been granted many awards, including being granted the Churchill Fellowship in 2013, being selected as a finalist in the Metro Art Prize of 2011, winning the Australian Stencil Art Prize in 2010, the most popular stencil at Melbourne Stencil Festival in 2008, and creating a short-listed Tropfest film Me-We in which he featured, directed by Jacob Oberman, on the making of his Archibald portrait.

Now living and working in Sydney, he has continued to refine his craft, striving to push the boundaries of his medium and creating picture-perfect stencils. Cornish has nuzzled his way into the fine art world, showing that even if the pen is mightier than the sword, the scalpel might win out overall.