Ben Quilty

Born in Sydney in 1973, he won the Archibald in 2011.

Ben Quilty is Australian artist; born in 1973 he grew up in Kenthurst, in the outer suburbs of north-western Sydney where he attended high school. He was a reckless teenager, participating in self-destructive behavior involving drugs and alcohol; these times inspired much of his work now. After school he studied Visual Arts at the Sydney College of the Arts. After this degree, Quilty was laboring and working in a kitchen before completing his second degree in Bachelor of Visual Communication from the University of Western Sydney and following this a course in Aboriginal studies at the University of Melbourne in 1996. Quilty began to paint inspired by his drug-fuelled youth; the images produced include skulls, snakes, drunken friends and the series of paintings depicting his car, a Holden Torano which produced a sell-out show in 2002. Acclaimed as a portrait artist, Quilty works in a wide range of genres, including still lifes and landscapes which reflect his fascination with the Australian landscape. His painting style uses thick impasto on a large scale, adding impact to his confronting subject matter. Quilty won the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2002, and then went on to be a finalist in the Wynne and Archibald Prizes. In 2009 he won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize with ‘Jimmy Barnes, There but for the Grace of God Go I, no.2’ and he won the Archibald in 2011 for his portrait of friend and mentor Margaret Olley. In November 2012 he was appointed a trustee to the Art Gallery of New South Wales Trust. In October 2011, the Australian War Memorial commissioned Quilty as an official war artist in Afghanistan while he was there he recorded the lives of the Australian Defense Force personnel. He is represented throughout Australian national and state galleries.