News 2020


Amos Gebhardt

Congratulations to Amos Gebhardt who is a finalist in the 2020 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize for the glorious ensemble Family portrait.

The photograph is  from the series Small acts of resistance, an expansive new moving image work created through the inaugural South Australian Film Corporation and SALA Festival Artist in Residence commission, premiering at Samstag Museum of Art, South Australia in October 2020.

Image: AMOS GEBHARDT Family portrait 2020, archival inkjet pigment print, 110 x 170cm, from the series Small acts of resistance 2020.


Danie Mellor ‘The Sun Also Sets’ exhibition – online now

Online Viewing Space
Danie Mellor
The Sun Also Sets
7 August to 5 September 2020

Tolarno Galleries is pleased to present a short film to accompany the new exhibition by Danie Mellor. Watch it in the online viewing space or via YouTube.

From his studio in Bowral, NSW, Danie Mellor talks about The Sun Also Sets with Tyson Yunkaporta (Apalech Clan, Cape York), a Melbourne-based writer and senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University. Our thanks to Thirdrow Films.

Hear more from Danie in interviews with:
ABC RN The Drawing Room
Art Guide

Read the exhibition review at Memo Review


Brent Harris – four new works

Tolarno Galleries is very pleased to present a suite of four new Brent Harris works in the Online Viewing Space in July 2020, direct from the studio.

Brent says, “These paintings have been worked on during the COVID-19 lockdowns. But really my studio practice is quite the same, as with most artists, we are used to working in isolation. The subjects of these panoramic pictures originates in the personal, before hopefully taking on relevance for the individual viewer.”

These previously unseen new works include two paintings, and two related works on paper. Click to enter the viewing room.

Image:  Brent Harris Imaginary Brother 2020, oil on linen, 92 x 73 cm


Craig Reucassel and Ben Quilty in conversation about ‘2020’

Craig Reucassel (The Chaser, The War on Waste) visits Ben Quilty in the studio for a closer look at the new painting, ‘2020’.

Watch  Craig Reucassel and Ben Quilty in conversation.

2020 2020
oil on linen
4 panels, overall 202 x 890 cm


Ben Quilty | 2020

Asked recently how he was spending his time during lockdown, Ben Quilty said he was working on a massive painting entitled 2020 ‘which is about the end of humanity as we know it and that is screaming off the wall.’

It depicts ‘a single figure lying on a table, a self-portrait about the way I feel, the way world politics is derailing a healthy future.’*

Screaming off the wall, 2020 reveals how the Black Summer fires and Coronavirus – back-to-back disasters – impacted on his making of one painting, turning what had begun as ‘notes on chaos’ into a monstrous and powerful portrayal of anger and suffering.

Watch Ben Quilty in the studio with 2020

*Nick Galvin, Kerrie O’Brien and Chloe Wolifson, Portraits of the artists in IsolationThe Sydney Morning Herald, May 29, 2020.


Benjamin Armstrong | ‘Under the Southern Sky’ | online now

Benjamin Armstrong has eschewed paint for ink in a number of his works over the years. His first exhibition at Tolarno Galleries in 2007 included sets of linocuts printed in metallic pigments on hand dyed paper, framed under etched glass. A few years later, he showed Chinese ink and watercolour pictures.

Now there are large linocuts printed onto stretched polyester and his studio doubles as a showroom for this online exhibition. Under the Southern Sky comprises eight works. The images, as Quentin Sprague observes in his catalogue essay: Contact Images, are “Australian in character… not the quasi-mythical construction embodied by notions of ‘mateship’ and a ‘fair go’, but the more foundational character imparted upon us by this country’s history, by the shockwaves of colonisation.”

The compositions are partly inspired by tales of first contact – in particular, Bruce Pascoe’s story telling in Cape Otway: Coast of Secrets (co-authored with Lyn Harwood in 1997). Delving into the past, Benjamin Armstrong, in this powerful and captivating series, offers his imaginative take on the story of ‘first contact.’ It’s a very distinctive reading of cross-cultural junctures that leads into highly nuanced works. Chameleon pigments shift and change like shot silk; colours alter miraculously as light plays over their surfaces. “This is history as magic realism.”

View online now.

Image: Benjamin Armstrong Inception I 2020. Linocut, pigments & binder on polyester, 133 x 102 x 3.5 cm


Bill Henson | Three new works, just released from the studio


“We should remind ourselves, from time to time, that despite what goes on in the world, the best in art always recommends the truth and its sometimes complex and ambiguous nature. As Plato said ‘beauty is the splendor of truth.’ ” – Bill Henson, 1 May 2020

Visit the online viewing space to see three new works from Bill Henson.

Image: Bill Henson Untitled 2010-20 RC SH47 N32C (2010–20), archival inkjet pigment print, 127 x 180 cm (paper size)


Amos Gebhardt | ‘Evanescence’ | online now

Our online program continues with a new feature highlighting the distinctive voice of Amos Gebhardt and focusing on one project: Evanescence an expansive, ambitious video originally shown at the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds at Art Gallery of South Australia, and a photography series. These works are available for the first time. Click here for all the details, online until 28 May 2020.

“…while our eyes are trained to focus on the human form, sustained viewing of ‘Evanescence’ reveals an anti-hierarchical treatment of the bodies and the landscapes. The human forms are reduced in the composition, a tactic that disrupts the Anthropocentric belief in our significance. How small we are against the immensity of time, and of the natural world.” – Joanna Kitto, Associate Curator at Samstag Museum.

Image: Amos Gebhardt Evanescence 2018, 4 channel, 4K video installation with multi-channel sound, 34 minutes (loop). Installation shot by Saul Steed, courtesy 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds, Art Gallery of South Australia.


Justine Varga | ‘Tachisme’ | online now

Known for her luminous photographs, some made with a camera and some without (and some made with a combination of the two), Justine Varga premieres a new body of work available to view online in the Tolarno Galleries Viewing Space until 9 May.

Tachisme ruptures any clear distinction between photography and painting. The negatives from which these photographs derive were smeared and stained with pigment during their long exposures. When these negatives are then printed from, at large-scale in the darkroom, the latent inscriptions are revealed to intermingle with the distinctive signature of the artist’s fingertips, a trace of touching that is generally forbidden in the production of photographs.

Justine Varga has always seen her photography in these terms, as a drawing with light, or more literally as a light-sensitive substrate on which she makes marks or allows the world to leave its own marks. These photographs are therefore the making visible of an art practice that is at once physical and chemical, autobiographical and contingent, painterly and photographic. In doing so, Tachisme asks viewers to reflect on the activity of decipherment in relation to photographs, making this exhibition a critical rumination on inscription, meaning and knowledge.

…an art that is abject and yet strangely alluring. Infectious in every sense of the word, once seen, Justine Varga’s photographs are stains that cannot be removed from the mind’s eye, and for that very reason powerfully embody the anxieties and uncertainties that pervade our present moment. – Andrés Mario Zervigón, Professor of the History of Photography at Rutgers University, USA.

Read more about Justine Varga in the Issue 49 Artist Profile cover story in 2019.

Image: Justine Varga Visage (2018-19). Chromogenic photograph, 146.2 x 111.5 cm (image size) / 161.2 x 122.5 cm (image including borders), edition of 5 + 2 AP


Brent Harris at 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art


On view from 29 February at Art Gallery of South Australia is the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres curated by Leigh Robb.

Click here to view available Brent Harris works from Monster Theatres.

The exhibition features a large body of work by Brent Harris, including ten of Harris’ iconic Grotesquerie paintings and premiering several new paintings and prints including more (pictured).

Leigh Robb says, ‘Monsters ask us to interrogate our relationships with each other, the environment and technology. They force us to question our empathy towards difference across race, gender, sexuality and spirituality’.

2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres, 29 February – 8 June 2020. [Temporarily closed, check for updates].

Image: Brent Harris more 2019, oil on linen , 244 x 175 cm