Adam Cullen: The Artist
Adam Cullen was born in Sydney in 1965. The artist was passionate about drawing from a very young age, and as a teenager drew cartoons for a local newspaper. He first gained recognition in the art world when he chained a decomposing pig’s head to his ankle for two weeks.
Cullen was associated with the Grunge art movement in the early nineties. During this time he exhibited alongside artists such as Tony Schwensen, Mikala Dwyer and Nike Saavas. In 1997, much to the surprise of his contemporaries, he entered the Archibald prize. He was hung as a finalist in 1998 and went on to win the prize in 2000 with a portrait of actor David Wenham. He entered the Archibald Prize regularly after winning and was subsequently hung as a finalist nine times. Cullen was instrumental in changing perceptions about the conservative nature of the Archibald Prize.
The artist used a highly personal visual language to address a broad range of topics including crime, masculinity and the relationship between animal and human behaviours. Cullen had a democratic approach to art and would happily merge references to high and low cultural influences in his works. Much of the work made post 2000 consisting of paintings executed in a bold pop style with defining features of drip marks, iridescent colours and black outlines. His works skillfully combine irreverent humour with an astute sensitivity to society.
The Cullen hotel opened in Melbourne in November 2009 and remains an ongoing tribute to the artist’s work. The artist died at home in the Blue Mountains on 28 July 2012.
1993 Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales
1995 Fluxibelstructures, Kunsthaus Oerlikon, Zurich, Switzerland
1999 Preambles, Australian Perspecta, MCA Sydney
2000 Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Winner
2000 Art in the World, Alexandre III, Paris, France
2002 25th Biennale Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo Brazil
2005 Identity and Desire, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
2008 Adam Cullen Let’s Get Lost, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Solo