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Queensland Art Gallery acquires Ben Quilty's Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012
Artist Ben Quilty with Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 at the launch of the 2014 Foundation Annual Appeal, 23 May 2014.

BRISBANE.- The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art today announced the acquisition of Ben Quilty’s striking painting Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 thanks to the QAGOMA Foundation 2014 Annual Appeal.

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said the Gallery was overwhelmed by the response from over 145 members of the public and Foundation members to this year’s Appeal.

‘With the support of many individuals and the tremendous financial support of the Returned and Services League (Queensland Branch), we have been able to secure this striking work by Archibald Prize-winning artist Ben Quilty.

‘The collaboration with RSL Queensland signals the beginning of a new four-year partnership with the Gallery to commemorate the Anzac Centenary. Quilty’s work is a moving illustration of the experience of a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, and it is significant to have the support of the RSL in the acquisition,’ said Mr Saines.

RSL (Queensland Branch) CEO, Chris McHugh said that while it was somewhat unusual for the RSL to invest money in artwork, securing this important painting for Queensland is yet another way to educate the public about the support needed by those who have served.

‘Often coming home is not the end of the battle for the brave men and women who serve in the defence forces. Many of them suffer life-changing physical and psychological injuries that require ongoing rehabilitation for both their bodies and their minds,’ Mr McHugh said.

‘Sergeant P, after Afghanistan aptly captures the demons that many of servicemen and women live with and, if supporting the Gallery with this acquisition we raise awareness of these issues and encourage them or their families to seek support, we have done a good thing.’

‘As over half of the donations to the Appeal were from members of the public who are not active members of the Foundation, I believe demonstrates the profound resonance this work has had with the community,’ Mr Saines said.

President of the QAGOMA Foundation Tim Fairfax AC thanked Gallery benefactors for their generous support of this year’s Appeal.

‘The 2014 Appeal exceeded our expected target of $120,000 and now we have a work that significantly enriches the Gallery’s contemporary Australian art holdings and the capacity to tell the stories of Australian’s who have served in recent wartime conflicts.

‘Currently on tour with the Australian War Memorial touring exhibition, the Gallery will formally receive the painting in mid-2015,’ said Mr Fairfax.

When it goes on display the work will be highlighted with a public program discussing the production of the portrait and the experiences of soldiers recently returned to Australia from active duty.

Commissioned by the Australian War Memorial in the role of official war artist, Ben Quilty (b.1973) spent three weeks on the frontline in Afghanistan in October 2011 talking to and documenting the experiences of Australian Defence Force personnel participating in Operation Slipper.

Like other works in the ‘After Afghanistan’ series, Sergeant P, after Afghanistan 2012 is a highly charged painting founded on the unique relationship that Quilty formed with the soldiers he met during his time in Afghanistan in 2011 when commissioned by The Australian War Memorial. It is a powerful portrayal of military experience in all its complexity and dimensions.

Since its establishment in 1979, the QAGOMA Foundation has raised more than $86 million, enabling the acquisition of more than 6400 works for the Collection. It has also provided vital support to the development of the Gallery’s exhibitions and programming.

Ben Quilty secured the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2002 and went on to be a finalist in the prestigious Wynne and Archibald prizes. In 2009 he won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and was awarded the Archibald Prize in 2011. In 2014, he went on to win two Prudential Eye Awards (painting and overall winner) and recently exhibited at the celebrated Saatchi Gallery in London. Quilty is represented in the collections of many Australian national and state galleries

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