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Wes Walters

1928 – 2014

Wes Walters (1928-2014), painter, studied architecture in Geelong and art at the Ballarat School of Mines before embarking on a successful career as a freelance commercial artist in 1950. In 1963 he was won the Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists' Association's Award of Distinctive Merit, and thirty years later he was inducted into the Illustrators' Hall of Fame. In the 1970s Walters moved away from full time advertising work to concentrate on painting, holding solo shows of landscapes and photorealist nudes. Gradually he developed a specialisation in portraiture, undertaking many commissions. When he won the Archibald Prize in 1979 for a portrait of Phillip Adams - pipping Keith Looby's portrait of Padraic McGuinness - Adams predicted correctly that the 'arties' would be furious because of Walters's background in commercial art. Walters has stated that 'My main objective as a portrait painter is to paint as well as my hero, Velasquez, in my estimation by far the world's greatest portraitist. I feel this is unlikely to be brought to fruition, although sometimes there are instances when I feel I get a little closer.' The National Portrait Gallery acquired his painting of Sir Zelman Cowen PC AK GCMG GCVO QC DCL by gift of Joseph Brown and Marc Besen AO in 2000. In 2006, also by gift from Joseph Brown, the Gallery acquired Walters’s undated portrait of Arthur Boyd.

Updated 2018