12 Jan A Quilty Pleasure
Visiting the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, I discovered an exhibition by the compelling painter Ben Quilty. And, wow, what a discovery!
His current show, simply titled Quilty, spans a period of work over the last 20 years and has a shock value that is grounded in integrity and tremendous feeling. His work demands attention and it’s thrilling. Ben Quilty states that “My work is about working out how to live in this world, it’s about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance.”
The pieces in the show reflect this sentiment with strong palettes, pointed themes and immediate impact which invite long, thoughtful gazing.
It’s not just the scale of the canvases that draws you in. The paint itself leaps out at you, placed on the canvas in multi-inch thick strokes and dimensional layering. In close up view, the strokes appear almost violent in nature and excitedly passionate in feeling. This artist definitely knows how to make a statement.
The show provides an interesting cross section of subject matter, covering everything from cars to the outback to Afghanistan war veterans. In addition, he is not above sharing political views and those show up in some of the works as well.
The entire exhibition is breathtaking and I was thrilled to learn about an artist that was unfamiliar to me. For those visiting Sydney, Quilty will run through February 2.