Ben Quilty is one of Australia’s greatest artists and from all accounts, one of the nicest people you could meet. I mention the latter because so many artists are known to be a little difficult to get along with - some of the time! The Hero is a photo of Ben Quilty (Getty Images), lounging in his Alexandria studio, in front of a self portrait.

(Source: ABC)

(Source: Fairfax Syndication)  

When I see this photo and for many of Quilty’s paintings I need to borrow an expression from an article I have recently read on the English war artist Paul Nash, published by the Tate Gallery (London) and that is: The Landscape of Mortality.

(Source: Australian War Memorial)  Captain S, After Afghanistan.  

(Source: Australian War Memorial)

(Source: Australian War Memorial)

(Source: ABC) And the utter destruction of all wars is exemplified in Tarin Kot, Hilux.

(Source: ABC)

I quote from an interview with Ben Quilty to gain a little insight into how this experience affected him. It was not so much his time in Afghanistan that left an impression, but the experience of working with the soldiers who sat for him after returning from Afghanistan, trying to live normal lives at home, “to then watch them try to struggle to come back and fit in, and drop, fall, crashing down to the earth with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very crushing and confronting.”(theconservation.com)

There can be no doubt that Ben Quilty is set on a mission to challenge our thoughts, our feelings about confronting issues such as mortality.  He also portrays his interpretation of the Australian National Identity, Australian Masculinity, European Settlement and the Treatment of the Aboriginal Peoples. Tomorrow we are going to see some of his works that are part of his Rorschach series. Yes, Ink Blots, for those of you familiar with this psychological testing technique.