Entertainment Arts Archibald prize: Mitch Cairns wins 2017 portrait gong for painting of his partner
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Archibald prize: Mitch Cairns wins 2017 portrait gong for painting of his partner

Rising star Sydney-based Mitch Cairns' portrait of his artist partner takes out this year's $100,000 prize. Photo: Twitter
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The winner of the 96th Archibald Prize is Sydney artist Mitch Cairns for his portrait of his partner, artist Agatha Gothe-Snape.

Cairns had been shortlisted for the $100,000 portrait prize four times before his win on Friday at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

“I’d like to thank, of course, Agatha, my beautiful partner, I love you very much,” Cairns said.

The accolade, which is judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, has a colourful history, with debate, division and legal challenges.

In the portrait, Gothe-Snape is seen sitting on a mat, embracing and resisting “what it is to be fixed”.

Cairns, who has a son with Gothe-Snape, said he composed this year’s portrait “with love”.

“I composed this portrait with love. Agatha and I share everything in our lives; our two-year-old son; our work as artists and our day-to-day lives,” Cairns said.

He said her position on the floor related to the “creative play” that happened frequently in their domestic life with their young son.

AS 43 finalists were whittled down to two – Cairns and Brisbane-based Chinese artist Jun Chen – judges in the end praised Cairns’ portrait for its economical use of palette and line.

— with AAP