Champion cyclist Anna Meares' steely gaze earns Archibald Prize call for Bright artist

Bright’s Phillip Barnes is an Archibald Prize finalist with this portrait of cyclist Anna Meares.

Bright’s Phillip Barnes is an Archibald Prize finalist with this portrait of cyclist Anna Meares.

BRIGHT artist Phillip Barnes has been announced as a finalist in the Archibald Prize with his pop art portrait of Australian cyclist Anna Meares.

But Border artist Marijana van Zanten’s painting of Indi MP Cathy McGowan missed out.

“I’m disappointed because I had a fabulous subject and a great painting,” van Zanten said.

Van Zanten will keep “knocking on the Archibald door” and said residents had not seen the last of her painting, although her lips were sealed yesterday over its future plans.

Born in Melbourne, Barnes works from a studio in the Victorian Alps.

He has had portraits in exhibitions throughout Australia.

Besides his commissioned works, he has completed more than 500 portraits for charity.

The Archibald entry, one of three completed for the cycling safety charity Amy Gillett Foundation, shows a close-up of Meares in full concentration as she awaits the starter’s gun.

Meares’ determination and drive saw her fight back from a life-threatening crash in 2008 to take the world and Olympic titles.

“The transformation that comes over her when she slips on her race helmet is startling, if not intimidating,” Barnes said in his entry.

“That transformation is the central theme of the portrait.

“Almost assaulted by her stare, the viewer is hopefully transfixed long enough to allow the eye to wander back through the layers into Anna’s past, where some of these references to life’s crossroads are hidden.”

His portrait was selected as one of 40 finalists from a field of almost 900 entries.

It is the second time Barnes has been selected as a finalist.

His portrait of Red Symons was selected in 2008.

The winner will be announced next Friday, with the exhibition to go on display from July 19 to September 28 at the Art Gallery of NSW.

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