It has taken Sydney artist Tania Wursig three weeks to paint her portrait of creative duo DJ Charlie Villas and jewellery designer Nikita Majajas. She is among the many artists adding final touches to their works as the closing date looms for the iconic compe…

Tania Wursig needed little encouragement to enter the Archibald Prize this year.

  • Hundreds of Australian artists enter the annual Archibald Prize competition
  • Friday is the deadline for entries
  • Winners will be announced on June 4

The Sydney artist enjoyed taking part in the nation’s iconic portraiture prize so much last year, she didn’t think twice about entering again.
“My experience was wonderful, the exposure was wonderful and the support on social media was phenomenal,” Ms Wursig said from her studio in Rozelle.
With a career spanning three decades and taking her around the world, she said the Archibald Prize, now in its 100th year, has brought her closer to her roots.
Artist Tania Wursig credits the Archibald Prize for bringing her “closer to her roots”.(ABC News: Lydia Feng
“I spend a lot of my time working overseas a majority of it is based in Europe and America so it’s been really nice to be appreciated by my home country,” she said.
Like many of her paintings, the subject for her Archibald entry this year is a female duo DJ Charlie Villas and her wife, jewellery designer Nikita Majajas.
“I really want to represent and support other female creatives, so that’s why I chose them,” she said.
It has taken three weeks to paint the life-sized portrait featuring the stylish couple, DJ Charlie in a powder pink suit and Nikita in a colourful vintage frock and their pug, Ms Peaches.
Reminiscent of a Renaissance family portrait, Ms Wursig said she was “playing with the idea that it’s a very modern couple but painted in a very traditional style”.
With the Archibald Prize deadline closing on Friday, she is one of hundreds of Australian artists delivering their submissions in person at the New South Wales Art Gallery this week.
An admiration for comedians and their work is behind Claus Stangl’s portrait of Sam Simmons.(ABC News: Supplied
UK-born Sydney-based artist Claus Stangl will also be there.
Stangl, who was an Archibald finalist last year with his portrait of Australian hip hop artist L-Fresh the Lion, is putting the final layers of varnish on his canvas before he’ll transport it to the gallery on Wednesday.
This year he has painted one of his favourite comedians, Sam Simmons.
“The last 12 months have obviously been really difficult for everyone the world over, and I felt comedy actually got me through a lot of it,” the 40-year-old said.
“We owe a lot to comedians.”
Mr Stangl was also inspired to create an artwork that subverts the often “serious” gallery experience.
“I want to make a piece that makes people smile and Sam has that look,” he said.
For the last three weeks, Mr Stangl has been meticulously crafting his large-scale acrylic artwork, putting in 12-hour days at his studio in Alexandria.
“I’ve turned down seeing friends, avoided babies’ birthdays and house parties, all the fun stuff, but hopefully it will pay off,” he said.
Claus Stangl’s portrait of L-Fresh the Lion was a finalist in last year’s prize.(Supplied: Claus Stangl website
Despite the time pressure, he admits to enjoying the challenge.
“There’s nothing like a deadline to get things done,” he said.
Head packer Brett Cuthbertson is bracing himself for the annual flurry of activity at the gallery’s loading dock where artists will drop off their entries and often stop by for a chat.
“It’s exhausting. By the end of it we’re all absolutely knackered but I love it, it’s just the whole adrenaline, the whole buzz it’s like a family gathering,” he said.
The work titled, Stand Strong for Who You Are by artist Vincent Namatjira, won last year’s Archibald Prize.(AAP Image:  Iwantja Arts, Art Gallery of NSW
Unlike last year, face masks are not mandatory so Mr Cuthbertson is looking forward to a more relaxed atmosphere.
Since it was established in 1921, the Archibald Prize has attracted more than 6,000 portraits from emerging and prominent artists in Australia and New Zealand.
“I can never understand how a prize of portraiture, which is a very old-fashioned form of painting, has become such a popular thing but it just has,” Mr Cuthbertson said.
A portrait of actor Mene Wyatt was awarded the Packing Room Prize 2020.(AAP Image: Joel Carrett
“Every year it just seems to build up momentum even more.”
The Archibald Prize winner will be announced on June 4.