Bachelor of Visual Communication, School of Design University of Western Sydney
Certificate in Aboriginal Culture and History Monash University
Bachelor of Visual Arts - Painting Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney
Ben Quilty paints like there is no tomorrow. In less than a decade he has become one of the country’s favourite artists. Quilty uses licks of luscious paint to conjure his subjects which include his beloved LJ Torana, his ‘wasted’ mates, his son Joe and more recently himself. His subjects are modern day memento mori; pithy reminders of our mortality and a call to live life in the fast lane.
Lisa Slade, Special Projects Curator, Art Gallery of South Australia
Ben Quilty paints relationships. His portraits of baby Joe, Grandpa and the tattooed Whytie are tributes to friends or family. But Quilty also considers technical relationships, specifically the teasing relationship between recognition of the paint medium and of the image. Appreciating paint as a tactile, sensual material and as means of representation, he engineers a balance of paint and portrait.
Quilty applies paint with broad gestural strokes, trowelled on to block out the broad masses of each face. The exuberant paintwork is held in check by contour and tone, which he uses to describe the features of his subjects. His meaty slabs of paint do not disguise the individuality of his sitters, which emerges through characteristic pose, familiar gesture or recognizable feature. Colour is called on to enliven the canvas and to create an emotive impression of character. Red and pink are used to evoke an emotional child, rainbow hues tell of a lively grandfather and simple browns and dark reds and blues slabs suggest the quiet strength of the tattooed man.
The very physicality of the thick paint plays a significant role in the recognition of the painting as an object and, simultaneously, as a building block for constructing likeness. Perception of the image tends to slide in and out of focus, moving between paint and likeness. Quilty negotiates likeness from the resistant materiality of the paint medium and the need for a recognisable image.
2011 - Archibald Prize
2009 - Doug Moran National Portrait Prize
2007 - National Artists’ Self Portrait Prize, UQ Art Museum, Brisbane
2004 - Metro 5 Art Prize, Melbourne
2002 - Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship
1991 - Artexpress, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (Julian Ashton Summer School Scholarship recipient)
1989 - Rocks Painters Picnic, Age and Open Winner, Sydney Festival of the Arts