July 3, 2014
Private Sydney Columnist
Impoverished artist to Armani
The last time Archibald-winning artist Ben Quilty was in residence in Europe he could barely afford a baguette and coffee.
This time around he will be swanning around London and Paris in a Giorgio Armani suit.
Quilty, along with his wife Kylie and two children Joe and Olivia, left their Southern Highlands home on Tuesday, bound for London and the glittering opening night of his first solo show at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery before moving on to Paris for a three-month residency.
Quiltywastheoverallwinnerofthe inauguralPrudentialEyeAwardforContemporaryAsianArtin Singapore in January, beating more than 500 other entries.
His prize is the London exhibition which will showcase his works from predominantly public galleries in Australia and the Paris residency.
"The last time we were in London, Joe was one ... he's now eight, we realised it was too hard to travel with little ones. I think showing in the Saatchi Gallery will be pretty surreal. They've asked me to do a huge wall drawing around one of the works called Inhabit, which is on loan from the Gallery of South Australia, so I'm looking forward to the prospect of spraying their walls in black aerosol paint," Quilty told PS, adding that he expected opening night would be a "bit of an Aussie knees up".
"I've got a heap of mates in London and they like a free drink," he joked.
With the likes of Germaine Greer, Alexander Downer and fellow artist Shaun Gladwell leading the guest list, Quilty should be in good company with a long line of high-profile expats expected at the show.
"I'm taking the same studio space I used years ago in Paris, but back then I could hardly afford to buy bread," Quilty joked, though chuffed that this time around he has the likes of Armani dressing him in the finest Italian evening wear.
"Yeah, I'm pretty pleased about that ... should be quite an experience," he said.