Archibald Prize 2024: Art Gallery of New South Wales

Oliver Watts

7 Jun - 8 Sep 2024

Oliver Watts’ ‘Last King of the Cross’ 2024 has been selected as a finalist in the 2024 Archibald Prize.

Oliver Watts’ subject is former nightclub owner and Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim, whose autobiography Last King of the Cross has been adapted for television.

‘You can’t fully explain the history of Sydney without including the colourful character of John Ibrahim,’ says Watts, a three-time Archibald finalist.

‘Kings Cross was once the centre of Sydney, the heart of our nightlife, a place where we got together to have a good time. If those days are gone, then Ibrahim was the Last King of the Cross.’

Watts initially made contact with Ibrahim through some friends who were working on the second series of the television drama.

‘I placed him in his old stomping ground. Set on Kellett Street after dark, the portrait uses the style of a British society portrait,’ says Watts. ‘Ibrahim looks confident and assured, like an alternative nightly king.’

Art Gallery of New South Wales