The Estate of Adam Cullen

Click to see art by Adam Cullen


Early in his career, Adam Cullen became renowned as an enfant terrible in the Australian art world. He has never been afraid to skirt around danger in his aesthetics and his practice. He gained early fame in his art school days by dragging a rotting pigs head around chained to his ankle. He raised eyebrows by collaborating with the infamous Mark ‘Chopper’ Read for their children’s book, Hooky the Cripple. He was well established as a Sydney ‘grunge’ artist when he won the prestigious Archibald Prize for his portrait of actor David Wenham in 2000, raising hackles amongst the more conservative members of the Australian art world.

But regardless of the bad boy posturings, there is also an extraordinary sense of both humour and pathos about Cullen’s work. He plays a delicate balancing act between punk-brashness and a terrifying, relentless honesty, expressing his own grave doubts about himself and the world around him.

There is a sense of despair running through the work, but with its extraordinary vigour, Cullen manages to overcome the negatives, creating a world of leaping leprechauns and bizarre figurines. In the 2004 monograph Scars Last Longer, the author, Ingrid Periz, refutes the bad boy image, revealing an artist of extraordinary skill and sensitivity.

“Dead cats, bloodied ’roos, inflatable men and headless women,” Periz writes. “Sydney painter Adam Cullen likes to conjure up the elements of a place called ‘Loserville’, pipe in some lounge music and depart the scene, but not for anywhere better.”

Cullen’s highly personal language ends up becoming universal. His schoolboy humour is matched by a highly sophisticated expression of moods and responses to society, moments of anger balanced with hilarity; an asylum turning into a festival. And it is all expressed with a powerful, gestural mark and bold colouration.

Adam Cullen was born in Sydney in 1965. He graduated from the City Art Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1986, a Diploma of Professional Art Studies from the City Art Institute in 1987 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales in 1999. He has shown in numerous individual and group exhibitions throughout Australia and New Zealand.

In 2002 he represented Australia at the 25th Biennale de Sao Paulo Iconografias Metropolitanas.

1965 Born, Sydney 1999 Master of Fine Arts (UNSW) 1987 Grad Dip of Professional Art Studies (City Art Institute) 1986 Bachelor of Fine Arts (City Art Institute)


2011 Aiding the bet (with animals), Gallery Ecosse, Exeter NSW

2009 They You Trust, Them You Don’t Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne A DEATH LIKE NO OTHER, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide

2008 International Manure/Evil/DNA/Blood/Arse, Heiser Gallery, Brisbane

2008 Let’s get lost, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

2007 I AM THE CHEESE, Kaliman Gallery, Sydney Stupid Heaven, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide

2006 Between the Lines: Works on Paper 1995 – 2005, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne Between the Lines: Works on Paper 1995 – 2005, Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest, Sydney

2005 Product of Compulsion, Michael Reid Art Dealer, Redfern Let Me Tell You About My Day, Greenaway Gallery, Adelaide Maintaining The Rage, Kaliman Gallery, Sydney

2004 Pure Sanctimony, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne On my Knees Looking Up, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney

2003 Future Dirt, Contemporary Art Centre South Australia Far and Away, Yuill Crowley Gallery, Sydney Our Place in the Pacific, touring show to regional galleries in Newcastle, Cairns, Gold coast and Toowoomba.

2002 UnAustralian, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney

2001 Night and Day, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney The Placebo Effect, Artspace, Sydney

2000 Value, ACCA, Melbourne Miss Gin Gin Showgirl (with Dale Frank), Hazelhurst Regional Gallery Interpersonal, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney

1999 Blind Side, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, SA; IMA, Brisbane, Qld Hotel/Motel, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney, NSW Genuine Imitation, First Floor, Melbourne, VIC

1998 Amateur Exorcist, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, NZ Self-Loving, Fiat Lux, Auckland, NZ Touch and Go, Level 2 Project, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, NSW World Fantasy, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney, NSW

1997 Special, Yuill Crowley Gallery, Sydney I Only think about you when I’m drunk, Test Strip, Auckland

Life Fitness, Artspace, Sydney

1996 The Australian Labor Party, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney, NSW Live Rock, CBD Gallery, Sydney, NSW

1995 Class, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney, NSW Peace is Cool, CBD Gallery, Sydney, NSW

1994 Soft Material Facts, Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney, NSW Special Galore Type, 200 Gertrude Street, Melbourne, VIC Homoerotic, CBD Gallery, Sydney, NSW

1993 Software, Selenium Gallery, Sydney, NSW August, CBD Gallery, Sydney, NSW Lucifer (with Matthys Gerber), Yuill/Crowley Gallery, Sydney, NSW Heterocampstick, Black Gallery, Sydney, NSW


2009 Hybrid, Artereal Gallery, Sydney

2008 Leading Lights, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, The University of NSW True Crime: murder and misdemeanour in Australian Art, Geelong Gallery, Geelong Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, Redleaf Council Chambers, Sydney Blake Prize, NAS Gallery, Sydney Bon Scott Project, Fremantle Arts Centre, WA

2007 Who let the dogs out, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW Salon Des Refuses, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney

2006 The Kilgour Prize, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle Fantasic Voyage, Kaliman Gallery, Sydney The Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

2005 A Special Exhibition, Kedumba Gallery, Wentworth Falls Unscripted, A.G.N.S.W., Sydney Special Affects, MOP Projects, Redfern The Sound of Painting, The Art Centre, Melbourne Campbelltown Bling, Campbelltown City Gallery Extinction Denied, Art House Hotel, Sydney Icons Framed, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill, Sydney Salon Des Refuses, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill, Sydney Art On The Rocks, Sydney Visitor’s Centre, The Rocks, Sydney. Identity and Desire A.G.S.A, Adelaide The Grey Voice, Tin Sheds, University of Sydney Interesting Times, MCA, The Rocks, Sydney. Wild Beasts Grey Matter, Glebe

2004 Extinction Denied, Arthouse, Sydney

Art and About, Various outdoor locations, Sydney The Visibility of Practice, Cell Block, National Art School, Sydney

2003 The Meaning of Everything, Yuill Crowley Gallery, Sydney The Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of N.S.W. The Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of N.S.W. Six Degrees of Separation, Yuill Crowley Gallery, Sydney Foxed, Yuill Crowley Gallery, Sydney Anita and Beyond, Penrith Regional Gallery

2002 The Archibald Prize, The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, NSW Hooky the Cripple, published with Mark Read, Pluto Press, Sydney Bitter Sweet, The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, NSW 25th Bienal de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil ARCO 2002, Madrid Art Fair, Madrid, Spain Kedumba Drawing Prize, Kedumba Gallery, N.S.W. Group Exhibition, Yuill Crowley Gallery, Sydney


2000 Winner Archibald Prize 1997-2004 Finalist Archibald Prize 2004 Finalist Sulman Prize 2002 Finalist Doug Moran Prize (highly commended) 2002 Finalist Blake Prize


Monash University Gallery

The Art Gallery of SA

The Art Gallery of Western Australia

Art Bank, NSW

AMP Australia

Kedumba Gallery

Australian National Gallery, Canberra, ACT

The Gold Coast City Art Gallery, QLD

Griffith University, QLD

Geelong Art Gallery, VIC

The Art Gallery of NSW

The National Gallery of Victoria

Germanos Collection, Sydney