Artwork that won $25k prize 'will baffle most people'

Forward Slash was done on a typewriter. Photo / Supplied
Forward Slash was done on a typewriter. Photo / Supplied
The winning piece in an art competition known for pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a "drawing" is not going to be "everybody's cup of tea", the artist admits.

Wellington woman Poppy Lekner's artwork is a collecting of forward slashes done by a typewriter on an A4 sheet of paper.

Forward Slash has earned Lekner the $25,000 top prize in this year's Parkin Drawing Prize - an annual competition that once controversially gave first place to a jumbled pile of carpet from an old state house.

Philanthropist and arts patron Chris Parkin said Lekner's piece was likely to "baffle most people".

He described Forward Slash as "a very meticulous, methodical repetition that almost I think defies the description of art".

Head judge Charlotte Davy, who is also the head of art at Te Papa museum, was tasked with selecting the winner.

"I think at a time of sort of chaos in the world and many of us feeling quite unsettled, it just felt like a very beautiful kind of cut through," she said.

"The artist has mechanically made the same mark over and over again, meshing and weaving the symbol into a single image. Far from the kind of quick digital keyboard art that can readily be morphed into emoji, this piece is a beautiful meditation created using a laborious process of pressing the character into the surface repeatedly in a line, then adjusting and realigning the paper at the end of each row before setting out again."

Lekner, who only completed the piece a day before entries closed, said she was "just super gobsmacked" to have won.

"I have worked on lots of different explorations using the typewriter but I hadn't committed as much time previously as I had in this work which required dedication because using a typewriter to mark make is quite a laborious thing," she said.

"I had to really concentrate the entire time. It's very easy to make a mistake on a very detailed, very fine thing."

Lekner said the piece was "a different way to look at what drawing can be".

"It's probably not everyone's cup of tea."

Parkin said there were a number of works in the shortlist of 76 pieces that stood out to him.

One, The Fountain of Life and Death by Natalie Britten was an "absolutely intricate" freehand drawing with minute, painstaking details.

Another, Home by Simon Attwooll, was a drawing of a burnt-out house made with 1176 matchbox trays and drawn with charcoal gathered from a house that had actually burned down.

Other artists continued to test what was a drawing with sculptures, light projections and one piece of work done on an old bedroom door.

There were 482 entries from around the country.

The Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition season runs until August 30 at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts Gallery Academy Galleries, Queens Wharf, Wellington.

All the artworks will be for sale.

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