A series of powerful portraits depicting the realities of war is stirring emotions Brisbane-wide.

Ben Quilty: after Afghanistan is bringing to life the raw emotional turmoil and psychological journey of military service — and is fast becoming the most visited exhibition for the Griffith University Art Gallery (GUAG) in recent years.

With almost 1,000 people through the doors since the show opened less than two weeks ago, the haunting faces on canvas are inciting extraordinary responses from viewers ranging from school children through to returned servicemen.

Seeing how the magnetic portraits are resonating with all who visit the show is in itself an incredibly rewarding experience says Naomi Evans, Acting Director at GUAG.

“Our visitors are telling us how moving the paintings are and it has been an opportunity to listen to so many individuals who are generously sharing their own stories,” she reveals.

“Many past and present servicemen and women, their friends and families have attended the exhibition already.

“These are the people who understand on a very real and personal level just what is at stake in going to war, acting in service, and the after effects it can have.

View images from the Opening Night.

“At the Gallery, we all can’t help but recall the profound words of Air Commodore John Oddie who spoke at our opening event.

“He explained that the gift of servicemen and women who chose to act on their drive to help others, are also gifts from their families – each mother, father, sibling, and friend.

“Ben Quilty became such a passionate supporter and friend to many of his sitters, and this is so clearly apparent in his work.

“It is no surprise that visitors of all ages and backgrounds are feeling the effects of such powerful and richly emotive pieces – it really is an exhibition everyone must see,” she says.

Quilty has since worked with the Australian War Memorial to create a limited edition print now on sale at GUAG, with all proceeds to go to Soldier On, an organisation dedicated to helping wounded soldiers.

Ben Quilty will join with special guest speakers Troopers Luke Korman and Daniel Spain this month to discuss his collection of portraits and experience in Afghanistan in a free public event, from 11.00am on Saturday 10 May.

A Children’s Portraiture Workshop will also run from 10am — 12 noon, Saturday 24 May. Here children will view the paintings and discuss the role of a War Artist and approach activities using the idea of capturing a story or emotion in an image (cost $15).

Ben Quilty: after Afghanistan will run until Saturday 7 June, from 10am — 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday at the Griffith University Art Gallery, 226 Grey Street, South Bank.

EDUCATION KIT: http://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/Quilty/


MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544, [email protected]