David Naseby, Adam Cullen

Artist: David Naseby b.1937
Title: Adam Cullen 2002 (Finalist Archibald Prize 2003)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Image Size: 107 x 153 cm
Provenance: The Artist


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David was born in England in 1937 and studied in the United Kingdom before moving to Australia in 1953, he studied at the Queensland Art Gallery befoe moving to Sydney where he worked in advertising

David Naseby is one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary portrait painters, he has been a finalist in Australia’s prestigious Archibald Prize five times, he has a passion for capturing the essence of his subject’s personality.

Whether painting figures or landscapes, Naseby’s intention is always clear – to discover what is beneath the surface. Naseby thinks of himself as a detective when painting portraits, delving into a life unknown and investigating what a person’s flesh is really covering.

“The power of any iceberg lies beneath its tip. I want to discover if the character is made up or real, or if their bravado is a cover for their fear, or their kindness is a signal of something sinister. It doesn’t matter whether they are someone sitting in the gutter or a priest in a position of power. I ask myself what are the tragedies and confrontations they have faced. “ – David Naseby

Naseby has painted a number of notable Australian figures, including Sir John Gorton, Les Murray, Angry Anderson and cartoonist Bill Leak. Many years ago Naseby found himself on the edge of the Murray River at a spot where salinity had killed off all the trees on the riverbank. He recalls the ghostly forms of the dead gums looked like twisted, tortured dancers reaching up in prayer. The scene haunted him for a long time and later, when he came back to exploring the human form, it struck him that his figure paintings bore a close resemblance to the organic structure of the landscapes that he had been painting and had haunted him for so long.

“Most of my paintings deal with confrontation of some kind or other. I feel I am wasting my time if they are not. I am only happy when I push my art beyond my own limits, which is when those free explosive marks begin to arrive. The bolder I am the more I begin to nail this power, and it is then I discover I do have some insight after all. There is a very fine balancing act between freedom and control. Even when figures are really distorted, I still want the viewer to be able to find a narrative. This involves eliminating the unnecessary elements, which is part of the process all good drawing and painting.” – David Naseby

Additional information


Naseby, David



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