Art prize judge Heather Galbraith was looking for a drawing with "an intensity and an energy that gripped the viewer and would not let you out of its clutches until you surrendered yourself to giving it time".
The one she chose is a piece of folded paper - for which Auckland artist Monique Jansen wins $20,000.
Even the man who put up the money - Wellington hotelier and arts patron Chris Parkin - admits he was slightly surprised by Jansen's win, but says he is "absolutely delighted" with the piece.
The winner, AO Folded Moire Drawing, is a 1500mm by 1200mm pencil drawing.
"This work has visual punch, sucks you into a vortex of marks where you can get lost for some time," Galbraith said.
"The intricacy and character of the individual marks hits you second, by which time you develop some concern for whether the artist suffers from RSI, but the overall effect of the work is cohesive. The technique does not dominate the work; the process - while integral - does not render the work clinical."
Mr Parkin said he established the Parkin Drawing Prize because the technique was "absolutely fundamental to high art yet we don't celebrate it". He has pledged to keep the award going for five years but hopes still to be around when it turns 25.
New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts director Warren Feeney described the winning piece as "purposefully, visually ambiguous" and said that to assume it was a picture of a piece of folded paper was misleading. "This is a drawing that has the sense of being seen anew each time it is encountered."
Wellington gallery Page and Blakie owner Marcia Page described Jansen as a "clear and deserving" winner: "[It's] a great start to what will certainly become an important competition in New Zealand art."
From about 800 entries in the competition, Galbraith also picked out six works for special mention.
They were Hannah Beehre's Postcard to Victor Jonet, Stephen Ellis's Untitled (Ultramarine), Trenton Garratt's Sectioned (Radial Drawing), James Oram's Untitled, Sian Torrington's Made of Bigness and John Ward Knox's untitled work.
- The Dominion Post