b. 1973, Australia

Ben Quilty Artworks

Recognisable for their rich impasto surfaces and expressive forms, Ben Quilty's paintings subvert notions of traditional portraiture to explore the relationship between the personal and the cultural. Addressing confronting and unsettling subject matter they at once challenge the viewer and the supposed limits of the medium.

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War Artist

In 2011, Quilty was appointed Australia's official war artist. He observed the activities of the Australian Defence Force in Kabul, Kandahar, and Tarin Kowt and subsequently spent six months producing work for the Australian War Memorial's National Collection.

Describing his a-political approach to these paintings the artist told Ocula Magazine in 2014, 'In the end, my story was to tell the story of what was happening to the people involved and responding to the immediate experience of what was happening. It was a very visceral response to the human condition, and what happens to human beings under such circumstances.'

Ben Quilty's familiarity with the war-torn nation led him to run a fundraising campaign in 2021, to raise money to support Afghan people facing uncertainties after the Taliban takeover of the country.

The Stain

In 2016 Quilty travelled to Lebanon, Greece, and Serbia as a guest of World Vision alongside author Richard Flanagan to document the plight of Syrian refugees. Works both by the artist and by the refugee children that he encountered were exhibited in a solo exhibition titled The Stainat Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

Rorschach Paintings

From an early stage of his career Ben Quilty made paintings that compositionally and conceptually incorporated elements of the Rorschach technique. Developed in the 1920s by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach, as a psychological tool, the test revolves around the perception of mirrored inkblots. Quilty adapts these ideas to examine dual perspectives of land, culture and history.

This is most apparent even in works from 2021 like Prayer, and the 'Afterlife' paintings. Here the colourful works take the appearance of the Rorschach ink blots more directly. Even in more figurative images like The Great Barrier Reef (2021) and On Lizard Island (2021), there is a duality between the pairs of wrestling figures that almost seem to emanate as conflicting sides from the same body.

Sculpture

Ben Quilty has also expanded his artistic scope to sculpture, in 2018 he made the sculpture, Not a Creature Was Stirring using the life jackets used by Syrian refugees. In 2021 he also created the playful figurative bronze Freefall (2021), an inverted nude figure seemingly partially buried headfirst in the ground.

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Freefall by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork sculpture
Ben Quilty Freefall, 2021 Bronze
184 x 69 x 38 cm
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The Crowd by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty The Crowd, 2021 Oil on linen
180 x 202 cm
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The Beach by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty The Beach, 2021 Oil on linen
188 x 142.5 cm
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Cronulla by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty Cronulla, 2021 Oil on linen
188 x 142.5 cm
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Peanut Eaters no. 2 by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty Peanut Eaters no. 2, 2021 Oil on linen
142.5 x 188 cm
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The Encouragement Award no. 2 by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty The Encouragement Award no. 2, 2021 Oil on linen
142.5 x 188 cm
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Tribulation by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty Tribulation, 2021 Oil on linen
188 x 142.5 cm
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The Fighter by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty The Fighter, 2021 Oil on linen
142.5 x 188 cm
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St Kilda by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty St Kilda, 2021 Oil on linen
180 x 202 cm
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Cheat by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ben Quilty Cheat, 2021 Oil on linen
180 x 202 cm
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The Big Fellow by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty The Big Fellow, 2019 Oil on linen
122 x 92 cm
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At the bottom of the fish tank by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty At the bottom of the fish tank, 2019 Oil on linen
265 x 202 cm
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The Desert by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty The Desert, 2019 Oil on linen
202 x 180 cm
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The Ludicrous Mode by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty The Ludicrous Mode, 2019 Oil on linen
202 x 180 cm
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150 Year, Rorschach by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty 150 Year, Rorschach, 2019 Oil on linen, 7 panels
111 x 888 cm
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Leisa by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork print
Ben Quilty Leisa, 2018 Colour etching with aquatint
76 x 57 cm
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Lloydy by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork print
Ben Quilty Lloydy, 2018 Two plate color etching
76 x 57 cm
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Kenny by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork print
Ben Quilty Kenny, 2018 Two plate color etching
76 x 57 cm
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Eric by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork print
Ben Quilty Eric, 2018 Two plate color etching
76 x 57 cm
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Pancreatitis (Kenny) by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty Pancreatitis (Kenny), 2018 Oil on linen
265 x 202 cm
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Santa's Little Helper 2 (Pat) by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty Santa's Little Helper 2 (Pat), 2018 Oil on linen
202 x 180 cm
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Santa's Little Helper by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty Santa's Little Helper, 2018 Oil on linen
202 x 180 cm
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The Biggest Bottom Feeder by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty The Biggest Bottom Feeder, 2018 Oil on linen
265 x 202 cm
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The Easter Bunny by Ben Quilty contemporary artwork painting
Ben Quilty The Easter Bunny, 2018 Oil on linen
265 x 202 cm
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