Christiana Spens went to the Saatchi Gallery to talk 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.
Interview by CHRISTIANA SPENS
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY
Ben Quilty is at the Saatchi Gallery, London, from 4 July – 3 August 2014.
Click on the pictures below to enlarge
Jimmy Pike: A Desert Cowboy in London – Retrospective
It is extraordinary in the early 21st century to be in the city of London looking at the work of an Australian Aboriginal artist who grew up as a hunter-gatherer in the Great Sandy Desert, acquired his art skills in prison, married his clinical psychologist there, and went on to become an artist of international acclaim.
Utopia: the genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye
The exhibition 'Utopia: the Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye' at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra was first planned for Japan, where it was shown in Tokyo and Osaka earlier this year. The opening in Osaka in February took place soon after the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, at his first opening of parliament as Prime Minister - the 42nd Parliament of Australia, on 13 February 2008 - made his historic apology to the stolen generations of Aboriginal people of Australia. Long in the waiting, the Director of the Museum of Australia described Rudd's statement as, '... a defining moment in Australia's history'.
Artists in the Bush: Land Issues in the Art of GW Bot, Wendy Stavrianos and Helen Geier
The landscape has inspired all Australian artists since the first explorations of the continent, and Settlement in 1788. The Land is also central to Aboriginal culture, and increasingly their perceptions and culture are being explored within Australian culture as a whole. The past 20 years, has seen increased interaction with Indigenous art, with the establishment of artist collectives and the proliferation of Aboriginal art for the market.
Melbourne Art Fair 2006: A Celebration of Indigenous Art and Beyond
In August, more than 26,000 visitors flocked to the biennial Melbourne Art Fair, considered by the Australian Arts Council to be among the top three contemporary art events in the Asia Pacific region.