Comedian Anh Do reveals a winning way with the brush

New job for Anh: Anh Do, who recently took up painting, is already a winner. Picture: Emilie Alford
New job for Anh: Anh Do, who recently took up painting, is already a winner. Picture: Emilie Alford

HAVING grown up in southern Sydney, comedian Anh Do had no trouble feeling at home in Kogarah Library when he was announced winner of the Kogarah Art Prize.

The $8000 prize was an acknowledgement that his latest job description — artist — was heading in the right direction.

The Vietnamese refugee who was meant to be a lawyer but instead became a popular comedian and author now spends a lot of his time painting.

He started taking art seriously last year, he said, although he was already an artist by inclination and training.

‘‘I used to skip law classes to go to Meadowbank TAFE — and sometimes the affiliated St George TAFE — to study art,’’ he said.

He took up law because ‘‘mum was looking after three kids and my goal was to buy her a house as soon as possible’’.

Then comedy came along and Mrs Do got her house but Anh’s art was put on the backburner.

‘‘I’m doing a bit less comedy now, mainly focusing on my TV specials, and painting a lot more,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve converted our double garage into a studio and my wife is a little annoyed that the cars are now outside.’’

Since taking art serious Anh has acquired a mentor, artist Paul Ryan, and has secured an exhibition at the Olsen Irwin Gallery in 2015.

Multitalented:  Anh Do with his Kogarah Art Prize-winning entry.

Multitalented: Anh Do with his Kogarah Art Prize-winning entry.

In the meantime he enters art competitions such as the Kogarah Art prize which is ‘‘quite a big deal in the art world with a high calibre of artists’’.

So far he has scored one win, one second place and a people’s choice.

‘‘I enter to test myself,’’ he said.

‘‘I love painting — I’ve always been more on an introvert than an extrovert. I was really quiet at school and while I wasn’t good at some subjects, I was good at art.’’

Anh also loves people, be it to watch them for comedy ideas or to paint them as in the case of Wombat Man, the subject of his winning painting.

‘‘He is a local character — and although only about 45 years old he reminds me of a sage,’’ he said.

Although ‘‘local’’ these days means the south coast where he lives with wife, three sons and a new-born daughter, Anh grew up at Arncliffe and lays claim to a lot of friends at Kogarah High School. And he remembers the old Rockdale flea market as a family reward.

‘‘If someone in the family did something really well, like won a prize at school, my mother would take us to the Rockdale flea markets where we could pick whatever we liked as long as it was under $5,’’ Anh said.

‘‘You could always stumble on to something good.’’

On one such trip, when he was about 14 and getting into the Beatles, he found an entire set of their music on cassette tape.

‘‘I joined with my brother for that one because it cost $10.’’

JUDGE IMPRESSED

The third Kogarah Art Prize, announced on Friday, June 20, was judged by Anne Loxley, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

She selected 35 works out of the 179 submitted and described the exhibition as strong and interesting.

The Wombat Man also won the packing room prize.

Place of Reeds Prize ($3000) was won by Annabelle Josse for Now and Then Commended Prize ($1000) went to Sallwa Hourani for Stage II

The art prize exhibition is on show at Kogarah Library until July 13.

Have you see the art prize exhibition?