Adam Cullen (1965-2012) was an Australian artist known for his raw and confrontational paintings. Born in Sydney, Cullen was largely self-taught, having dropped out of art school after just a few weeks. He worked in a variety of jobs, including as a garbage collector and security guard, before devoting himself full-time to art in the early 1990s.Cullen’s work is often characterised by its' visceral, unsettling qualities. He frequently depicted distorted, exaggerated figures, as well as animals and landscapes in a dark and foreboding style. His paintings were influenced by a range of sources, including street art, punk music, Australian folklore and mythology. He held his first solo exhibition in 1993, commonly working in house paints to explore themes of the human condition.
Despite his controversial subject matter, Cullen achieved widespread critical acclaim during his lifetime. He was the winner of the Archibald Prize in 2000 for his portrait of actor David Wenham. He also exhibited his work extensively in Australia and overseas, including at the National Gallery of Australia and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. In 2002, he represented Australia at the Sao Paulo Biennale and was highly commended in the Doug Moran Prize. His works are held by the National Gallery of Australia, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Nation Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of Western Australia and The Art Gallery of South Australia and The National Portrait Gallery.
In addition to his artistic practice,Cullen was known for his eccentric and often controversial behaviour. He was outspoken about his struggles with addiction and mental health, and his personal life was often the subject of tabloid speculation. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 47. Despite his untimely death, Cullen’s legacy continues to influence and inspire artists in Australia and beyond. His work remains an important and provocative commentary on Australian culture and society.