ARTISTS from Girrawheen and Mindarie are finalists in a prestigious national competition.
Mugurel Barbulescu, of Girrawheen, and Mindarie’s Alan Green are among 40 artists vying for $50,000 in the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture.
It is Barbulescu’s third time as a finalist in the WA-based competition, which attracted more than 300 entries and shortlisted 14 WA artists.
He started painting at age 35, after moving to Perth from Romania in 1989, just two months before the Romanian Revolution.
“I couldn’t speak the language and it was very hard to adjust…and I started to draw,” he said.
Despite little formal art education, he created his own “unusual style” and takes inspiration from surrealist artist Victor Brauner.
Barbulescu started suffering from mini strokes in 2015, which affect his vision, and created his self-portrait Mugurel 42 to represent his 42nd mini stroke.
He has a chance of becoming blind and is also awaiting heart surgery for a lifelong condition so the artwork depicts the range of emotions he is experiencing.
“I chose to paint myself based on sudden feelings of panic, despair, hopelessness and disdain, anger and fear, disappointment and uselessness about becoming partially blind,” he said.
Barbulescu described being named a finalist as a pleasure and a gift, which reflected his intent to make the most of his life and health.
“I am so thrilled even as a finalist, it is a great honour,” he said.
“I accomplished something, I didn’t waste time, I didn’t waste eyesight.”
Green’s portrait is of radiation oncologist and ECU adjunct professor David Joseph, who he met after being diagnosed with a serious health issue in 2010.
“I was especially impressed at how generous he was with his time to explain everything in detail and with kindness, as he was aware of where I was heading,” Green said.
Artworks are on display at the Art Gallery of WA from November 1 to 27.
Winners will be announced on November 10, with a top prize of $50,000 on offer, as well as a $7500 People’s Choice award and $10,000 artist prize.