Australia may be a small country by population, but the artwork produced here can compete with the very best. We’ve compiled a list of some of Australia’s greatest up-and-coming artists we recommend you keep an eye out for this year. For one reason or another, these guys are set to make a splash on the art scene – both locally and internationally. Whether they’ve been around a couple of years or a couple of decades, we think its time these artists were given the due credit they deserve.
Ben Quilty won the 2011 Archibald Prize and has been on the up and up ever since. He is one of Australia’s most talented and successful contemporary artists, having recently held solo exhibits in Canberra, Hong Kong, South Korea and the Philippines. This year, he’ll hold solo exhibitions in London’s Saatchi Gallery and the Galerie Allen in Paris.
Quilty has employed a range of subjects in his paintings, from portraits to landscapes and still lifes. He has explored themes of masculinity, national identity and morality throughout his illustrious career. His works are unique and easily distinguishable with bold colour choices and heavy layers of paint, laid thickly on the canvas using, among other things, cake-decorating tools.
In 2011, Quilty joined the likes of Arthur Streeton, George Lambert and Frederick McCubbin when he was attached as a war artist to the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates. On his return, he created After Afghanistan, an art exhibit that toured nationally in 2013.
In January 2014, he won the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards for Contemporary Asian Art. It’s obvious in the art world that Ben Quilty is taking his art to new heights and we’re intrigued to see where he will go from here.
As far as prominent emerging indigenous artists go, you need look no further than Yolngu artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu. Celebrated in the preeminent art news website BLOUIN ARTINFO, as “one of the most exciting and singular artists to have emerged in recent times”, Yunupingu’s art career is on the rise.
Yunupingu recently exhibited a show entitled Nyapanyapa Yunupingu – My Sister’s Ceremony at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney. It displayed her latest works, painted on strips of bark and logs. Two of her larrkitj (painted logs) were also displayed as part of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s Yirrkala Drawings exhibition.
Yunupingu learnt her art from her father, celebrated artist Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, but her spirited paintings diverge from traditional clan designs and sacred stories. It is this pioneering spirit that has distinguished her pieces from other indigenous artworks.
Yunupingu’s works can now be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Jason Benjamin’s artworks are so popular his exhibitions are commonly sold out before opening night. It’s easy to see why he is one of Australia’s foremost contemporary painters. Whether it’s still lifes, landscapes or portraits, Benjamin’s paintings are haunting, poignant and emotionally charged.
Since his first solo exhibition in downtown Manhattan in 1989, Benjamin has held dozens of shows in Australia, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Rome. The Art Collector Magazine has shortlisted Benjamin as one of the top 50 Australian artists, in league with Sydney Nolan and Brett Whiteley.
Benjamin has a number of accomplishments to his name. In 2003, he was the youngest Australian artist to have sold a single work for $50,000. In 2005, he won the Archibald Packing Room Prize for his portrait of Bill Hunter titled Staring Down the Past. He was also a finalist for the 2011 Archibald Prize.
Benjamin’s artworks are going places – literally. In 2013-2014, his touring survey exhibition Everyone is Here canvases a number of rural towns in New South Wales, including Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Dubbo and Bathurst. Another exhibition, Awoke in Light was displayed at Buratti Fine Art in Perth this year.
Anthony Lister is one of Australia’s most renowned contemporary artists. He specializes in street art, painting scrappy, loosely formed subjects onto canvases and walls around the world. His evocative images reflect a fusion of high and lowbrow cultures that appeal to art enthusiasts and passersby alike. He also draws influence from expressionism, pop art and the modern youth culture.
Lister joined the urban art scene at the age of 17 and has since had solo exhibitions across Australia, the US, Europe and the UK. His latest exhibits included New Image Art in Los Angeles in 2011 and Unslung Heroes in London and Newcastle in 2012.
Lister recently released the Lister Sketchbook, which includes his sketches over the past ten years. He is so well recognized in the international urban art scene that he was included in the 2013 Complex Art and Design’s 50 Most Influential Street Artists of All Time. We can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next.
This Melbourne born and bred artist is making waves on the Australian art scene with his unique drawings and crafts. In the past year, he has reached a high point in his art career, winning the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award for Visual Art as well as being chosen to participate in the National Gallery of Victoria’s epic Melbourne Now exhibition.
McLuckie is celebrated for his exploration of mythical themes of ritual and rebirth. He uses a range of different mediums, though he is best known for his stunning bead paintings.
McLuckie’s status as a reputable artist has been secured with a two-year residency at the Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne and two upcoming solo exhibitions in Melbourne: Two Lovers at the Murray White Room and Cosmic Soul Sugar at Studio 12 Gertrude Contemporary. This means we’ll have plenty more to see from him in the future.
Johnny Romeo is Australia’s foremost pop artist, recognized internationally as well as at home for his exuberant paintings styled on Neo-Expressionist Pop Art. The paintings are difficult to miss, featuring bold, colourful portraits of cultural icons.
Romeo gets his inspiration from rock ‘n’ roll, comic books and street art. He combines these themes with insightful criticisms of modern world excesses of materialism, advertising and waste. He questions how we construct our identities amid this chaos. It is this depth in his work that sees Johnny Romeo as an international leader in Neo-Expressionist Pop Art.
Romeo’s global recognition is undisputed. His exhibitions have sold out in Sydney, Perth, the Gold Coast, Alice Springs, Darwin and New Zealand. He showcased his work at three major US exhibitions in 2013 and has a major European debut show in Milan this year. And if that’s not enough to convince you of Romeo’s esteem, he even collaborated on a recent project with renowned American punk band Blink-182.
Where To From Here?
Australia may only occupy a small corner of this great globe, but that just gives us even more reason to celebrate when local artists make it big. Art is an important medium for exploring and redefining our young identity. It’s up to new and emerging artists to push the boundaries on what it means to be Australian. We’re confident that the energy and enthusiasm shown by our country’s talented artists proves they’re up to the task.
Richard Tarrant - BioGoogle+
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