Sarah Tomasetti wins 2020 John Leslie Art Prize

Australian painter takes out the top prize and AU$20,000.

Words: Yasmine Masi

The Gippsland Art Gallery and Wellington Shire Council have announced Australian Sarah Tomasetti as the winner of the 2020 John Leslie Prize. The artist was awarded AU$20,000 for her oil painting of the sacred Tibetan mountain, titled Kailash from the Air.

In her large painting, Tomasetti depicts the mountain landscape via oil and incision on fresco plaster, recalling methods of the Renaissance period. She portrays the mountain as the crucial centre of a network of organic, earthly systems. It dominates the canvas, emphasising Mt Kailash as the source of all life. She paints a high perspective of the mountain to elevate viewers to an untravelled region of the world and take them back to the dawn of humanity.

Gallery director Simon Gregg described Tomasetti’s winning work as magical. “The painting is a dazzling tour-de-force that draws you in,” he says.

“The handling and application of the oil paint into wet fresco is exemplary and the subject is a timely one with the changing climate and the need for increasing respect of our planet’s finite resources. The more one looks at the painting the more we find within it, and it continues to unfold before our eyes”.

Tomasetti’s painting has been acquired into Gippsland Art Gallery’s permanent collection. The exhibition of the 50 finalists is currently on display at the gallery until 25 October.

Tomasetti is represented by Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney and Beaver Galleries, Canberra.

Image: Sarah Tomasetti, Kailash from the Air, 2019. Oil and incision on fresco plaster, 220 x 130cm. Courtesy: the artist and Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney; and Beaver Galleries, Canberra.

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