The first major survey exhibition of one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists.

The Art Gallery of South Australia presents the first major survey exhibition of one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Ben Quilty.

The exhibition extends from Quilty’s early reflections on the initiation rituals performed by young Australian men to his experience as an official war artist in Afghanistan and his campaign to save the lives of Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The exhibition also includes works inspired by Quilty’s visits with author Richard Flanagan to Lebanon, Lesbos and Serbia, his revisions of the Australian landscape, and raw, intimate portraits of himself, his family and his friends.

My work is about working out how to live in this world, it’s about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance. Through it I hope to push compassion to the front of national debate.
Artist Ben Quilty

Developed by the Art Gallery of South Australia and curated by Assistant Director, Artistic Programs Lisa Slade, the exhibition is unveiled in Adelaide before a year of touring.

Spotify Playlist

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Exhibition Guide/Poster

Available with a gold coin donation

School Bookings

Book your school into a tour of Quilty

Touring Dates

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art | 29 Jun - 13 Oct 2019
Art Gallery of New South Wales | 9 Nov 2019 - 2 Feb 2020


Dr Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs

Principal Donor
  • Neilson Foundation
National Sponsor
  • Lipman Karas Logo

Presented in Adelaide as part of the 2019 Adelaide Festival.

Quilty's Rorschach paintings

The Gallery’s entrance area features Ben Quilty’s first monumental Rorschach painting, a remake of Eugene von Guérard’s 1863 North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko.


Titled Inhabit, sixteen oil paintings are sequenced like cartoon cells, revealing Ben Quilty’s early training as an animator and his experience as an editor in a commercial television newsroom...

Afghanistan and after

Ben Quilty’s time in Afghanistan was both defining and debilitating for him as an artist. His previous inquiries into mateship and mortality were recast into a more critical inquiry into self...

Seeking refuge

It was on a beach in Greece in 2016 that Ben Quilty observed a ‘high-tide mark’ of bright orange, in the form of hundreds of discarded life jackets. Abandoned by those who had crossed the Aegean...

The Last Supper

The Last Supper Ben Quilty’s most recent works continue the examination of masculinity that began more than twenty years ago with his muscular paintings exploring the rituals of mateship...