Quilty major survey exhibition opening night to be headlined by The Herd

Ben Quilty, Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012The first major survey exhibition of one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Ben Quilty, will launch this Friday evening (1 March 2019) at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

To be officially opened by the Premier of South Australia, The Hon. Steven Marshall MP, Australian hip hop group, The Herd will kick off proceedings with a concert on the Gallery’s forecourt. Heralding from Sydney, this is the first time in six years that The Herd will perform in Adelaide.

“We’re looking forward to performing at the Art Gallery of South Australia in support of Ben’s exhibition, an artist all of us in the band greatly admire and respect,” says The Herd Frontman, Urthboy. “Adelaide is a special place to be during the Festival and the Fringe so we can’t wait to get amongst it.”

Developed by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the exhibition extends from Quilty’s early reflections on the initiation rituals performed by young Australian men to his experience as an official war artist in Afghanistan and his campaign to save the lives of Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

“My work is about working out how to live in this world, it’s about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance,” says Quilty. Through it I hope to push compassion to the front of national debate.”

The exhibition also includes works inspired by his visits with author Richard Flanagan to Lebanon, Lesbos and Serbia, his revisions of the Australian landscape, and raw, intimate portraits of himself, his family and his friends.

“The exhibition presents a portrait of a socially engaged contemporary artist who is committed to art’s capacity to instigate change,” says Dr Lisa Slade, Exhibition Curator and AGSA Assistant Director, Artistic Programs. “Quilty’s subjects are never objectified, but always rendered through the lens of personal experience.”

“For most of this century Quilty has been delivering urgent visions of our time in history. An unlikely activist, he wields paint to draw our attention to our responsibility as critical citizens in an increasingly fraught world.”

“Quilty’s radical humanism has lured him outside the sedate spaces of the art gallery into war zones, refugee camps, and the Bali prison where Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were executed,” says art critic John McDonald. “Not many of us would willingly undertake such journeys, which reveal Quilty’s compassion for the victim, and his determination to use his skills (and an increasingly high profile) to make a difference.”

Ben Quilty’s painterly obsession with cars, especially his treasured LJ Torana, saw him burst onto the art scene in 2002. The Torana presented, in a single subject, a self-portrait of the artist (an ‘auto’ portrait) and a contemporary vanitas symbol – one that signified the mateship rituals of his upbringing on the outskirts of Sydney.

Since winning the Brett Whiteley Traveling Art Scholarship in 2002 (the same year that his Toranas were first exhibited) Quilty has been awarded several art prizes including the 2007 National Self Portrait Prize, the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2009 and the Archibald Prize in 2011.

He has been the recipient of residencies in Paris, Spain and Hill End in New South Wales. In 2011 he traveled to Afghanistan as Australia’s official war artist. Quilty has also been represented in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including his first solo museum exhibition Ben Quilty Live! at the University of Queensland Art Museum in 2009, and in 2013 After Afghanistan, the major Australian War Memorial touring exhibition.

International solo exhibitions include the Saatchi Gallery, London and Galerie Allen, Paris in 2014. His work is held in state, national and regional public collections in Australia and in private collections both in Australia and abroad.

Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Exhibition: 2 March – 2 June 2019
Free entry

For more information, visit: www.artgallery.sa.gov.au for details.

Following its exhibition in Adelaide, Quilty will go on display at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art: 29 June – 13 October 2019 and the Art Gallery of New South Wales: 9 November 2019 – 2 February 2020.

Image: Ben Quilty, Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012, oil on linen, 240 x 550 cm overall; Patrick White Bequest Fund 2012, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney