oil on canvas
120 x 120 cm
ultraviolet (UV) Perspex box 124 x 124 x 7.5 cm
Maunsell Hughes Gallery, Ben Quilty Torana, front colour cover illustration. March 2003
Michael Reid, Sydney
Private collector, Sydney
Michael Reid: ‘How to Buy & Sell Art” Allen & Unwin, 2004
Stephen Lacey: ‘Totally Driven’, The Bulletin, illustrated, 27th July 2005
Hawkesbury Regional Gallery: Friends & Neighbours, 17th September to 30th October 2005
Simply put & without adornment Quilty’s Torana # 4, 2003 is a masterwork-Torana painting, from one of the artist’s strongest and most important creative periods. In terms of early Quilty, Torana # 4 is the Crown Jewel of the artist’s oeuvre.
Torana # 4 is also the only painting in this series of this 120 x 120 cm impactful size. The work is encased in ultraviolet (UV) Perspex. This came about, when the owner of the painting was required to move to Los Angeles for filming. For safe shipping – and in homage to Brett Whiteley – the work was encased in protective UV Perspex. Whitelely framed a good many of his paintings and drawings in UV Perspex boxes in the belief that such framing cut an elegant, more highly magnified surface from which to view a painting or drawing, indeed he was right.
In terms of his general practice, Quilty is a strong colourist. His juxtaposition of one colour against another, differing yet complementary tones, can clearly be seen in Torana # 4. Quilty’s buttery troweling of paint onto canvas first came to the attention of the art world in 2003 when he won the much-coveted Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship to Paris, through the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It was however, his second solo exhibition later that year – a sell out – that created market-moving excitement. For Quilty painted a series of near abstract works centred on his beloved 1972 LJ Torana. A 3.3 litre blue motor, stage three head, extractors and cam, electronic ignition and a three-speed floor shifter. The standard weapon for a young man’s Australian suburban life – an icon of the Baby Booming generation.
“Ben Quilty was born a year after the Holden LJ Torana was built. The car was his darling, his ticket to ride, his way out of wherever.” *
* Germaine Greer, “Schoolboy doodles? Hardly. Ben Quilty’s car are a glimpse into the male psyche” The Guardian, 26 October 2009