(1908 – 1987), Australia

Roger Kemp Biography

After more than 20 years of exhibiting his distinctive abstract paintings to limited critical acclaim, Roger Kemp’s success as the winner of the McCaughey Prize in 1961 acknowledged his importance as an innovative and unique abstract artist in Australia.  

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Kemp attended the National Gallery of Victoria School (1933-1935). Influenced by the work of Malevich and Mondrian he began to cultivate personal signs and symbols in his paintings that liberated his work from the constraints of depicting the real world, revealing more universal and spiritual concerns.  

As a Melbourne-based artist his success in the 1960s was challenged by an opposing group of figurative painters, seeking to restrain the influence of abstraction. However, ultimately Kemp’s development of a sustained, personal visual language provided an important example for Australia’s avant-garde. His limited colour range and boldly outlined forms are reminiscent of George Rouault and Medieval stained glass windows. The spiritual nature of his work was acknowledged in his success as the winner of the Blake Prize for religious art in 1968 and 1970.   

Kemp received the Order of the British Empire in 1978 and has work in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. 

Roger Kemp Featured Artworks

Landscape through symbols I by Roger Kemp contemporary artwork painting
Roger Kemp Landscape through symbols I, c. 1964 Oil on composition board
90.8 x 120.7 cm
Not for sale
Tarrawarra Museum of Art
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