Link to exhibition catalogue

Hailing from what the artist describes as a ‘bird part of town’, feathered friends of all shapes and sizes feature as regular subjects in Andrew Sullivan’s latest exhibition. His paintings are often inspired by their serendipitous visits to the artist’s home. Painted both dead and alive, currawongs, doves, parrots and others are pictured alongside the artist’s frequently used motifs.

Employed for their symbolic implication and aesthetic qualities, autumn leaves might signify change, skulls (painted here from plastic models) traditionally represented mortality, while butterflies suggest transformation or appear as “symbols of the soul”. In some work, tarot cards and other small pictures within the paintings add mysterious dimensions. Sullivan, a past winner of the Sir John Sulman Prize, for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project, is inclined to let his paintings speak for themselves.

When asked about the exhibition tittle The Golden Wheel – represented by a yellow circle – the artist notes that rather than god, a term which “belongs to religion” and “carries with it a certain amount of baggage for some people”, he prefers the conceptual ideas embraced by The Great Spirit in Native American culture. Simultaneously encompassing natural and supernatural worlds, this spiritual deity more closely reflects the foundation of Sullivan’s art. “This body of work is about how life is a journey from egg to expiration and beyond the expiration toward another beginning,” says the artist.

Sullivan’s Survey into the Cretaceous – in which the painter imagines himself as an assigned artist with a team of palaeontologists on a survey expedition into the late cretaceous period – was staged at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery earlier this year. The show will tour to Maitland Regional Art Gallery in November, and Albury LibraryMuseum in 2021.

Sharne Wolff, ‘Andrew Sullivan: The Golden Wheel’, Art Collector, Issue 93 July-September 2020, pp188-189

Installation images by Docqment

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