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NG Art Gallery, in association with Coo-ee Aboriginal Art, is proud to present To Paint Every Hill, by renowned Aboriginal artist Billy Benn Perrurle. Hunted as an outlaw over 40 years ago, once crowned the winner of the prestigious Alice Prize and named as one of Australia's 50 most collectable artists, Billy Benn has lived an extraordinary life. Hetti Perkins, curator of Aboriginal works at the Art Gallery of New South Wales once quoted him as saying "he plans to paint every hill from his country and then he will stop, then he will return home."

Faced with challenges on his return path to his homeland, Alyawarr and Eastern Arrernte, Billy primarily paints from memories formed many years ago. He paints his mother's country, his grandfather's country and very occasionally, his father's country, with his images emerging from a special meeting place found somewhere between memory, spirit and feeling.

Essentially an outsider artist, with little structured art training, Billy Benn's sensitive use of colour portrays the magical, daily evolving shades of Central Australia's hills: purple, indigo, brown, yellow, pink are swept upon

the canvas using his signature rich brushstroke technique, creating scenes that seem to move before our eyes with a floating, dream-like sensibility. His use of thick, lusciously textured paint conjuring up ideas of how one might like to remember a place, perhaps a blissful transgression away from the tainted harshness of reality.

A reality and past that is, at times, dotted with intense shades of darkness brought about through unrelenting psychological and personal struggles.

In 1967 Perrurle shot a man, killing him, and in the subsequent hunt, Perrurle wounded two police officers.

Benn Perrurle lived as an outlaw with his wife for 14 days until a hired tracker discovered him and handed him over to police. He was later acquitted of murder on the grounds of insanity. Benn's art practice, it would seem, has been a saving light in a life path that could have diverted in a very different direction to where he finds himself heading today.

Having worked for 20 years at the Bindi arts workshop in Alice Springs, Billy Benn's artistic practice developed unseen for a number of years.

His tenacity became the catalyst to the establishment of Mwerre Anthurre - Bindi Centa Arts, a cooperative of artists working with a disability, and the fostering of the talents of his colleagues, including Aileen Oliver and Seth Namatjira. In 2000 Benn's work was first publicly exhibited, in an exhibition for people with a disability, in which all his work sold and an undercurrent of buzz began about Billy Benn as an artist to watch.

Billy Benn's work has been described by former deputy director of the National Gallery of Victoria Frances Lindsay "as a trajectory of [the] Albert Namatjira [style]."

His use of flowing brushstrokes a sharp departure from the traditional dottopographical approach that much of Aboriginal art is associated with. It has a sophistication of sense and an employment of both Aboriginal and white Australian landscape techniques that seem to verge as one. Each of his pieces emerging as a complex representation of the undeniable movements of a sordid past, encapsulated within an embodiment of essence and light.

Billy's work is held in major national galleries and in many private collections.

Billy has risen to national prominence in recent years with numerous exhibitions throughout Australia. In 2006 he won the coveted Alice Prize and his work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria and Araluen Art Centre. He was also named as one of the 50 Most Collectible Artists by The Australian Art Collector magazine and he has been represented in the Togart Contemporary Art Award.

To download the exhibition invitation simply click here.

For further information, please email ng@ngart.com.au

Feast for the Senses Dinner Event Wednesday 3 March
In celebration of the exhibition a Feast for the Senses dinner event will be held on Wednesday 3 March at NG Art Gallery and Mission Restaurant. The evening will be convened by former ABC presenter Richard Morecroft and will feature guest speakers Glenn Barkley, curator at the MCA and Colin Rhodes; Professor Colin Rhodes Dean of Sydney College of the Arts and Campbelltown Arts Centre Indigenous curator, Djon Mundine. Together they will discuss the concept of "Ingenius or Genius: The Spirit of Art". The evening will include a 3 course dinner with wine, followed by the discussion. Tickets are $60 per head and can be reserved by phone on 02 9318 2992.
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