Major Margaret Olley and Ben Quilty Exhibitions at GOMA in June
Two expansive exhibitions celebrating the work of leading Australian artists Margaret Olley (1923-2011) and Ben Quilty (b.1973) will show concurrently at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from June through to October, 2019.
‘Margaret Olley: A Generous Life’ opens from 15 June while ‘Quilty’, developed by the Art Gallery of South Australia and the artist’s first major survey, opens from 29 June.
QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said ‘A Generous Life’ featured more than 100 works and would engage audiences in a richly colourful journey exploring the legacy and influence of Margaret Olley, one of Australia’s much-loved artists.
‘We are thrilled to be presenting this multifaceted exhibition developed by Michael Hawker, Curator, Australian Art, QAGOMA as a celebration of Olley’s extraordinary life as an artist, mentor, muse, passionate collector and donor, alongside an exhibition of 70 works by her good friend Ben Quilty,’ Mr Saines said.
‘We took the opportunity to program these exhibitions by two different yet equally committed artists so our audiences could consider Olley’s influence, legacy and her connection to Quilty.
Mr Saines said Ben Quilty would be onsite in early June to create site-specific, hand-drawn portraits of Olley at GOMA.
‘These drawings will be something of a homage given it was Olley who awarded Quilty the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2002, who became his friend and mentor, and whose portrait Ben painted to win the Archibald Prize in 2011,’ he said.
‘A Generous Life’ highlights Olley’s formative years spent in Brisbane, explored through a number of early post-war paintings featuring Farndon, her family home in Brisbane’s Hill End, and iconic landmarks such as St Paul’s Terrace (Spring Hill) 1946, Breakfast Creek Hotel 1946 and the Queensland Treasury Building 1947.
The exhibition highlights Olley’s enduring love of travel and her passion for portraiture, still life and interiors. It includes many examples of her painted by other artists, including William Dobell and Jeffrey Smart, and a selection of works she bought then generously gifted to public institutions, including pictures by European artists Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Giorgio Morandi, Pablo Picasso, Edouard Vuillard and others.
Reflecting an equally driven passion for art-making, ‘Quilty’ offers audiences a bold portrait of a socially engaged contemporary artist committed to art’s capacity to raise awareness and instigate change.
Curated by Dr Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, AGSA, ‘Quilty’ includes the artist’s revisions of the Australian landscape, raw intimate self-portraits and images of family and friends, as well as works inspired by visits to Lebanon, Lesbos and Serbia.
The exhibition also features powerful portraits of Australian men and women who served in the war in Afghanistan and the late Bali Nine member Myuran Sukumaran, as well as The Last Supper, a series of paintings created in 2017 in response to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America.
The multi-layered works feature Quilty’s signature surfaces, thickly smeared, smudged and caked with rich impasto gestures of paint applied with a bold virtuosity.
While ‘Quilty’ is showing in Brisbane, the Children’s Art Centre at GOMA will feature a project for children and families developed in collaboration with the artist, his 13-year-old son Joe and 10-year-old daughter Olivia. An aspiring artist himself, Joe Quilty has painted a portrait of his father which will feature in the space and, along with his sister Olivia, shares tips on how to draw a portrait.
The Children’s Art Centre will also screen a video produced by QAGOMA showing the family in the artist’s studio and Joe Quilty painting a portrait of his father from life.
'Quilty' is supported by the Neilson Foundation as Principal Donor and by Lipman Karas as the National Sponsor.
‘Quilty’ and ‘Margaret Olley: A Generous Life’ are free exhibitions, showing until 13 October. For more information or high resolution images, please contact email@example.com.
Margaret Olley was born in Lismore in 1923 and later attended boarding school at Somerville House, Brisbane where her love for painting was nurtured by teacher and Melbourne National Gallery School trained artist Caroline Barker. Olley was enrolled at Brisbane Central Technical College in 1941 and in 1942 she moved to Sydney and enrolled in a diploma of art at East Sydney Technical College (later the National Art School) where she graduated with first-class honours. Olley then spent her time travelling abroad and living between Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney. Initially she was represented by the Johnstone Gallery in Brisbane and then Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, until her passing in 2011. She is fondly remembered as an outspoken, clever, gregarious, generous and utterly unique character.
Ben Quilty (b.1973)
Ben Quilty was born in Sydney in 1973 and now lives and works in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Quilty has been a finalist in the prestigious Wynne and Archibald prizes and won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2009 and the Archibald Prize in 2011 with his portrait of artist Margaret Olley. In 2011 Quilty travelled to Afghanistan as an official war artist with The Australian War Memorial. He was invited by World Vision Australia to travel to Greece, Serbia and Lebanon with author, Richard Flanagan, to witness firsthand the international refugee crisis in 2016. Quilty’s work is represented in major public, corporate and private collections in Australia and continues to draw critical acclaim with regular solo exhibitions both here and internationally.