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Christiana Spens spoke to Quilty about his exhibition, as well as his past work as an official war artist, embedded in the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan, and his wider ideas about history, identity and brutality.
Quilty’s work confronts Australian history and identity through a series of Rorschach-inspired paintings. These include Fairy Bower Rorschach (2012), which layers colonial landscape with past atrocities against Aboriginal people, and Self Portrait Smashed Rorschach (2009), in which images of past debauchery coincide with a surface whose textures recall trees and abstract patterns. His Inhabit series, meanwhile, challenges ideas of Australian colonialism and identity, through paintings of Captain Cook evolving from a devil and into portraits of the artist.
Ben Quilty is at the Saatchi Gallery, London, from 4 July – 3 August 2014.
Interview by CHRISTIANA SPENS
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY