A striking portrait of an Australian Defence Force Sergeant by Archibald Prize-winning Australian artist Ben Quilty’s will this evening be announced as the focus of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Foundation 2014 Appeal.
President of the QAGOMA Foundation, Tim Fairfax, AC, said the 2014 Appeal aimed to raise funds to acquire Quilty’s painting Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012.
‘The 2014 Appeal presents a unique opportunity for supporters to enrich the Gallery’s ability to tell the stories of Australians who had served their country in wartime conflicts,’ he said.
Currently on tour with the Australian War Memorial exhibition, Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 is from Quilty’s compelling ‘After Afghanistan’ series.
‘In the year we commemorate the Anzac Centenary, every donation made towards the Appeal will ensure this significant work joins the Gallery’s contemporary Australian art holdings, and enriches the collection for future generations,’ said Mr Fairfax.
Commissioned by the Australian War Memorial in the role of official war artist, Ben Quilty (b.1973) spent three weeks on the frontline in Afghanistan in October 2011 talking to and documenting the experiences of Australian Defence Force personnel participating in Operation Slipper.
QAGOMA Director, Chris Saines said the striking and graphic portrait captured the visceral intensity of the experiences so greatly affecting both artist and sitter.
‘Like other works in the series, Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 is a highly charged painting founded on the unique relationship that Quilty formed with the soldiers he met during his deployment. It is a powerful portrayal of military experience in all its complexity and dimensions,’ he said.
‘Having sustained life-threatening injuries in a wartime accident, Sergeant ‘P’ was determined to stand for the entirety of his portraiture session. This inspiring act of willpower is portrayed with heart-rending vulnerability,’ said Mr Saines.
Since its establishment in 1979, the QAGOMA Foundation has raised more than $86 million, enabling the acquisition of more than 6400 works for the Collection. It has also provided vital support to the development of the Gallery’s exhibitions and programming.
Ben Quilty secured the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2002 and went on to be a finalist in the prestigious Wynne and Archibald prizes. In 2009 he won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and was awarded the Archibald Prize in 2011.
Quilty is represented in the collections of many Australian national and state galleries and frequently exhibits in major national group and solo exhibitions.
Ben Quilty will discuss being an Australian official war artist and the encounters that lead him to develop the ‘After Afghanistan’ series with Chris Saines at the QAGOMA Foundation 2014 Annual Appeal launch this evening.
For further information, or to make a donation, please contact the QAGOMA Foundation on (07) 3840 7262.
Ben Quilty / Australia NSW b. 1973 / Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 / Oil on linen / 190 x 140cm / Proposed for the Queensland Art Gallery Collection / Photograph: Mim Stirling