Jamie Preisz's portrait of Jimmy Barnes posed as a title fighter has won the $1500 Packing Room Prize in this year's Archibald Prize.

The winning portrait shows Barnes strapping his hands and came in on the first day entries were open.

Preisz said he had been inspired to paint Jimmy because he was not just a rock musician but a part of the cultural fabric of Australia.

Barnes said it showed he was "prepared to fight for love, friends and family".

Jamie Preisz's 'Jimmy (title fight)'.


This year's selection shows little change in the aesthetic tastes of the staff at the Art Gallery of NSW whose job it is to receive, unpack and hang the hundreds of Archibald Prize entries.

Following the retirement of Steve Peters last year, new head packer Brett Cuthbertson and his staff have opted for a painting of a celebrity, realistic in style.

Last year Peter Smeeth's portrait of a reclining Lisa Wilkinson won the Packing Room Prize.

Peter Smeeth's portrait of Lisa Wilkinson.

The winning portrait was selected from 58 Archibald finalists unveiled on Thursday.

Twenty-one were self portraits, with notable artists Robert Hannaford, James Powditch, Tiger Yaltangki and Del Kathryn Barton bringing themselves to life on canvass.

Fourteen works captured fellow artists including Joan Ross, Guy Warren and Susan and Peter O'Doherty.

Actors and musicians were the next favourite sitters with life like portraits of Guy Pearce and Alison Whyte with an Elizabethan neck ruff.

The Packing Room Prize is a bittersweet honour. Since it was first awarded in 1991/92 the winner has never gone on to win the Archibald Prize.

Three times the Packing Room Prize has also been People's Choice: Bruno Jean Graswill's 2015 portrait of Michael Caton, Jan Williamson's 2002 portrait of singer Jenny Morris and Paul Newton's 2001 portrait of Roy and HG aka John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver.

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Linda Morris

Linda Morris is an arts and books writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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