Skull, one sided Rorschach by - 2007 | Michael Reid Gallery

Skull, one sided Rorschach, 2007

oil on canvas
signed, dated and bears title on the reverse
130 x 140 cm

Acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, New South Wales

For Ben Quilty, the Rorschach images will continue to represent a significant moment in the career of an artist whose intellectual capacity commands greater and greater presence with each outing.

From early showings at GrantPirrie in mid-2000, Ben Quilty’s unabashed use of oil on linen was instantly regarded as a definitive practice. But here, in the inverse print of a skull painted first in signature strokes of neat paint from the tube then swiftly transferred to a clean canvas, the artist reveals a will to consistently interrogate the act of painting itself.

This image has been produced on a scale, more intimate than is usually associated with the artist. Its size allows for a visceral appreciation of the doubled image and the subtle variations that transmute from the right to left side canvas. The skull, in bright silhouette, is a masterful work of texture, its perfectly calibrated palate giving a sense of velocity or explosion of the cranial ridges.

The title of the work “Skull, one sided Rorschach, 2007″ alludes to the well known psychoanalytic tradition of Rorschach inkblots: silhouetted mirror images that are used by the analyst to trigger associative thoughts in their patients. However, this approach to image production also recalls the childhood technique of ‘butterfly paintings’, and the artist has pointed out that “Most young men’s lived experience of Rorschach’s is from making art in kindy, not psychoanalysis.”

 The skull is a motif returned to time and again by Quilty, his rigorous approach to practice turning its attention to questions of masculinity and mortality, the throes of young nationhood and identity.


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