A large-scale portrait of Aboriginal writer and filmmaker Warwick Thornton is the people’s choice pick for Australia’s Archibald Prize for portraiture.

Sydney artist Craig Ruddy’s painting The Prince of Darkness was named winner of the Archibald People’s Choice Prize on Thursday. More than 23,000 people cast votes in this year’s contest.

“The greatest thing for an artist is to evoke feeling and emotion in the viewer,” said Ruddy, who said he was inspired by Thornton’s cinematic exploration of dark topics, including Australia’s treatment of its Aboriginal population.

Thornton, who was honoured with the Caméra d’Or prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his feature Samson and Delilah, was also on hand in Sydney to celebrate Ruddy’s win.

“It’s kind of a nice thing to just sit there,” he said of posing for the painter, also a past Archibald winner.

“You’d hear this beautiful sweeping. And these really sporadic, chaotic scratches and that…. It was amazing to listen to someone paint.”

Ruddy, who receives $2,500 Australian (about $2,100) in prize money, previously won both the main Archibald Prize and the people’s choice category in 2004 for his popular but contentious image of Aboriginal actor and dancer David Gulpili.

The main Archibald prize for 2010 went to Sam Leach for his picture of Australian comedian, musician and cabaret performer Tim Minchin.

This year’s finalists and winners of the Archibald Prize will continue on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until May 30.

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CBC News ( artist Craig Ruddy, left, poses with filmmaker Warwick Thornton and his portrait of the director, which has won the Archibald People’s Choice Prize. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)