Scandalising the art snobs when he walked away with the prestigious Archibald Prize in 2000 for his portrait of actor David Wenham, Adam Cullen has since been identified as one of Australia’s most collectable contemporary artists. He is top of the AGNSW Contemporary ’12 Hottest’ list, and has numerous solo exhibitions and a lengthy bibliography of art discourse behind him.
Cullen’s work provokes us and makes us wonder. He has an extraordinary sense of humour and pathos and plays a delicate balancing act between “punk brashness” and a relentless honesty, expressing his own grave doubts about himself and the world around him.
The content of his comic repertoire often revolves around issues of national and gendered identity – addressing racial intolerance, bigotry, sexism and political and social hypocrisies.
Cullen’s work displays a keen eye for abstraction and for more or less traditional painterly qualities. Stylistically, particularly in his graphics, Cullen borrows from popular graffiti and by doing so, questions the boundaries that traditionally separate art from life.
Sadly, Cullen passed away mid-2012 at age 47, after battling illness for a number of years.
As an artist, Cullen was not concerned with finding an imperative truth but rather said “I think art is about asking a lot of questions.” Mission accomplished.
Prizes include: Archibald Prize 2000 (Winner); finalist 2002-03; ARCO 2002 Madrid; Sulman Prize 2003; Finalist, Mosman Art Prize 2000; and Winner, Mosman Art Prize 2005. Public Collections include: Australian National Gallery, Canberra, ACT; The Gold Coast City Art Gallery, QLD; Griffith University, QLD; Geelong Art Gallery, VIC; The Art Gallery of NSW;
The National Gallery of Victoria; Monash University Gallery; The Art Gallery of SA; The Art Gallery of Western Australia; Art Bank, NSW; and AMP Australia; as well as numerous private collections in Australia and overseas.