Ben Quilty’s view of Australia at war is a deeply human one


Every year, the QAGOMA Foundation Appeal seeks to add to the Gallery’s Collection a work that makes a compelling artistic proposition – one that somehow feels essential to us and might make others feel the same, in 2014, we are presenting a work by a leading contemporary Australian artist, Ben Quilty who is not yet represented in the Gallery’s Collection, but who undoubtedly should be.

RELATED: Sergeant P, after Afghanistan

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Quilty’s view of Australia at war is a deeply human one. Those who have seen the Australian Story documentary ‘War Paint’, which told the story of Ben’s deployment to Afghanistan as an official war artist, will know what I mean. The relationship that Ben formed with members of the armed forces during that experience, and in the months that followed, when many of them visited him to sit in his studio, is the very thing that has enabled works like Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012.

For the first time ever at a Foundation Appeal event, we were able to go straight to the source, when Ben joined me on stage to discuss the work, his time with his subjects both in Afghanistan and in his studio back in Australia, and the art historical context of his painting practice.

Chris Saines CNZM is Director, QAGOMA

Ben Quilty, Australia b.1973 / Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 / Oil on linen / 190 x 140cm / Purchased 2014 with funds from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation Appeal and Returned & Services League of Australia (Queensland Branch) / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Ben Quilty

An unspoken story

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Feature image: Ben Quilty in conversation with Chris Saines CNZM, QAGOMA Director

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