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Acclaimed Australian artist Ben Quilty will unveil first major exhibition in South Australia

BY Samuel Squire | 11-Feb-2019
The Art Gallery of South Australia kicks off its national tour of Quilty from the beginning of March with an opening night featuring hip-hop group The Herd.
Ben Quilty, Art Gallery of South Australia
Developed by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the exhibition from the Australian war artist, Ben Quilty, will be opened at the beginning of March as part of the Adelaide Festival.

Urthboy, the front man for The Herd said the opening would be their first show in Adelaide in six years.

“Adelaide is a special place to be during the Festival and the Fringe so we can’t wait to get amongst it,” said Urthboy.

Quilty is a contemporary Australian artist, whose dark and surreal paintings about issues like the war in Afghanistan and the Bali Nine have gained him international acclaim.

Curated by the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Assistant Director Dr Lisa Slade, the exhibition extends from Quilty’s early reflections on the initial rituals performed by young Australian men to his personal experience as an official war artist in Afghanistan and his endeavour to save the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two of the Bali Nine.

“The exhibition presents a portrait of a socially engaged contemporary artist who is committed to art’s capacity to instigate change. Quilty’s subjects are never objectified, but always rendered through the lens of personal experience,” said Dr Slade.

“For most of this century Quilty has been delivering urgent visions of our time in history. An unlikely activist, he wields paint to draw our attention to our responsibility as critical citizens in an increasingly fraught world.”

Ben Quilty said his work is about “working out how to live in this world, it’s about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance.”

“Through it I hope to push compassion to the front of national debate,” he said.

Art critic John McDonald, said Quilty’s radical humanism has lured him outside the sedate spaces of the art gallery into war zones, refugee camps, and the Bali prison where Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were executed.

“Not many of us would willingly undertake such journeys, which reveal Quilty’s compassion for the victim, and his determination to use his skills and an increasingly high profile to make a difference,” McDonald said.

Presented in Adelaide as part of the 2019 Adelaide Festival and with support from the Neilson Foundation as Principal Donor and Lipman Karas as National Sponsor, Quilty will be open in Adelaide from 2 March to 2 June 2019.