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Ben Quilty, 'Kuta Rorschach No 2' (detail) 2014, oil on canvas. Collection Bendigo Art Gallery. Image courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

Ben Quilty

12 December 2014 - 1 March 2015

Born in Sydney in 1973, Ben Quilty studied at Sydney College of the Arts and University of Sydney. He has been awarded numerous prizes and scholarships including the Brett Whitely Travelling Scholarship (2002), the Doug Moran Prize (2009) and the Archibald Prize (2011). In 2014 he won the overall prize in the 2014 Prudential Eye Award for Contemporary Art, becoming the first Australian to have a solo exhibition at the influential Saatchi Gallery, London.  This exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery brings together the works shown in London, alongside Kuta Rorschach No.2, a work recently acquired by the Gallery.

Quilty is undoubtedly one of Australia’s best-known and highly-regarded contemporary painters. His work is characterised by a gestural painterly style and is widely known for his quick working method, which deliberately leaves smears, smudges and almost three-dimensional brush marks on the canvas. His paintings depict rural Australia and some of the more challenging aspects of our culture and history.  European settlement, the rites and rituals of masculinity, nationhood and the plight of Indigenous Australians are ongoing themes. 

The exhibition includes a selection of paintings from his acclaimed Rorschach series, which mimic the ‘ink blot’ tests introduced in the 1920s as a tool for psychological testing.   Each of the paintings depicts picturebook landscape scenes that belie their more sinister history.  For example, Fairy Bower Rorschach (2012) captures the New South Wales tourist attraction Fairy Bower Falls, which is also thought to be the site of an horrific massacre of Aboriginal people. While Kuta Rorschach No.2 shows the famous Bali beach – a popular holiday destination for Australians and inextricably linked to the ‘Bali bombings’ of 2002 – a terrorist attack which claimed the lives of 202 people from 22 countries, including 88 Australians.

Entry to the exhibition is free