Stephen Bush came to prominence through a series of works titled The Lure of Paris, depicting children’s book character Babar the elephant set amongst a hostile seascape. The postcolonial themes arising from that subject matter (Babar is ‘civilised’ by his European masters and eventually returns to Africa to attempt the same transformation on his kin) have been visited by Bush in other work, in his depiction of costumed figures in mountainous landscapes.
Bush often introduces out-of-place elements such as furniture and industrial equipment to his scenes and plays with scale and perspective to further throw off any straightforward reading off the image. His use of high-key colours and lush, seductive surfaces draw the viewer into his paintings.
Bush has exhibited extensively for three decades. He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at public museums in Australia and the USA, and his work has been included in group exhibitions in USA, Europe and throughout Australia. Bush has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants and has undertaken residencies in New York and Paris. His work is represented in many significant public collections including Art Gallery of New South Wales; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; and Queensland Art Gallery; as well as numerous private collections throughout Australia, Europe and USA.