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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.

Jan Senbergs, 2015

Jacqueline Mitelman

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 51.0 cm x 56.4 cm, image: 27.8 cm x 39.8 cm)

Jan Senbergs AM (b. 1939) came to Australia from Latvia in 1950. He studied at the Melbourne School of Printing and Graphic Arts, where he was influenced by Leonard French. He taught throughout the 1960s at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; meanwhile, in 1964, he joined the stable of artists associated with the Rudy Komon Art Gallery in Sydney.

Senbergs has developed a vocabulary of seemingly sinister images of the modern industrial city, which have often been interpreted – for instance, by Bernard Smith – as ‘dreary emblems of humankind polluted materially and spiritually by the advanced technological society’. He sees himself, however, as an ‘image maker’, whose method is to paint abstract shapes, with little preconception, then unite elements from printmaking and photography with the outlines he has made.

In the mid-1970s he was the Creative Arts Fellow at ANU, and between 1977 and 1980 he made a huge anodised aluminium six-panel mural for the ‘Constitution Wall’ of the public hall of the High Court. Here he began a friendship with the architect Colin Madigan, which resulted in a collaborative exhibition documenting the sinking of the HMAS Armidale, Armidale '42 Memory and Imagination, exhibited at the National Gallery in 2000.

Senbergs is well-known for his fantastically intricate, messy drawings, including the huge quartet Kitchen at Smacka’s in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, as well as depictions of Antarctica that he made after a visit in 1987. The Art Gallery of New South Wales mounted Jan Senbergs: From screenprinter to painter in 2008, and the National Gallery of Victoria held a major retrospective of his work in 2016. Showing commercially at Melbourne’s Niagara Galleries, he is represented in all major Australian public galleries and various American institutions.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Wayne Williams 2015
© Jacqueline Mitelman

Accession number: 2015.124

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Jacqueline Mitelman (age 63 in 2015)

Jan Senbergs (age 76 in 2015)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Jacqueline Mitelman video: 3 minutes 37 seconds
Jacqueline Mitelman video: 3 minutes 37 seconds
Jacqueline Mitelman video: 3 minutes 37 seconds
Jacqueline Mitelman video: 3 minutes 37 seconds

Jacqueline Mitelman

'Buddha-nature'

Portrait story

Australian photographer, Jacqueline Mitelman, discusses her process for creating portraiture.

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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.