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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Contemporary Australian Portraits

Previous exhibition from Thursday 14 November 2002 until Sunday 2 March 2003

Contemporary Australian Portraits is a cross section, a sampling, of some of the present-day directions in Australian portrait practice. As the first display in the Gallery’s newly opened annex in Commonwealth Place, the exhibition flags a number of our intentions over the next three years. Firstly, it declares that the Commonwealth Place exhibitions will be modern in content and character, designed to fit with the contemporary architecture of the building.

Contemporary Australian Portraits is grouped around three ideas. The first is an examination of a trend in recent portraiture, to present images of faces in groups. Inevitably such groups make us think about individuals in broader social contexts. It is not possible to look, say at Siri Hayes’s simple portraits of mothers and babies without being reminded of recent debates in Australia about the value of motherhood, or at Ricky Maynard’s portraits of Wik elders without being reminded of the proximity of Commonwealth Place to the High Court where decisions affecting the lives of all Australians are made.

In contrast with these generalising portraits are portraits of individuals. The most extreme expression of individuality is found in the self-portrait. There are more self-portraits painted than any other type of portrait in Australia; the subject is one of seemingly endless possibilities. The self-portraits included in this exhibition demonstrate the flexibility and the possibilities of the self-portrait as an expression of identity, reflection and bold experimentation.

The third emphasis in Contemporary Australian Portraits is on the National Portrait Gallery’s central role in presenting important Australians across all fields. Here the Gallery has a shaping role; through the process of commissioning significant contemporary artists to create portraits, the Gallery expresses its aspiration to see portraiture as a major stream in contemporary art, not merely a specialist activity.

Andrew Sayers
Director

Ian Thorpe, 2002 James Houston.

Related information

Slim Dusty and Dame Edna Everage, Carlton Hill Station, WA, 10 July 1993 John Elliott
Slim Dusty and Dame Edna Everage, Carlton Hill Station, WA, 10 July 1993 John Elliott
Slim Dusty and Dame Edna Everage, Carlton Hill Station, WA, 10 July 1993 John Elliott
Slim Dusty and Dame Edna Everage, Carlton Hill Station, WA, 10 July 1993 John Elliott

Rarely Everage

The Lives of Barry Humphries

Previous exhibition, 2002

The exhibition begins with Barry's childhood in Camberwell, Melbourne and chronicles his days as a struggling actor in Australia and England, his creation of characters including Barry McKenzie, Dame Edna Everage, Sandy Stone and Sir Les Patterson

London, 1952 by Bill Brandt
London, 1952 by Bill Brandt
London, 1952 by Bill Brandt
London, 1952 by Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt

A Retrospective

Previous exhibition, 2002

From Brandt's early work that documents fixed social contrasts of pre-World War II life in Britain to his later experimentation with a surreal style, this exhibition spans 50 years of Brandt's far reaching career in an extensive assemblage of 155 vintage gelatin silver prints from the Bill Brandt Archive in London.

The Joy Of Life, 2002 by Janelle McKay
The Joy Of Life, 2002 by Janelle McKay
The Joy Of Life, 2002 by Janelle McKay
The Joy Of Life, 2002 by Janelle McKay

Headspace 3

Being Me

Previous exhibition, 2002

The self-portrait enables students to explore emerging and changing aspects of their own identity, their sense of self, their place in the world, their experience of being human

Albert Namatjira, 1958 William Dargie
Albert Namatjira, 1958 William Dargie
Albert Namatjira, 1958 William Dargie
Albert Namatjira, 1958 William Dargie

Sir William Dargie

A Ninetieth Birthday Tribute

Previous exhibition, 2002

As a tribute to Sir William Dargie's singular contribution to Australian art and cultural institutions, and on the occasion of his birthday, The Australian War Memorial, Parliament House and the National Portrait Gallery will mount exhibitions of his work between May and October

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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.