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Rick AMOR (b.1948)

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Rick Amor was born in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Frankston in 1948. ** Amor was encouraged to paint the coastal landscape he saw around him by both his father, a schoolteacher, and his aunt, an author, both of whom had studied art in their youth. Rick’s mother died when he was a teenager but his elder sister, who also studied art, introduced him to de Chirico (an early influence) and Dali. *** To this day, Amor still paints the landscapes of his childhood on the Mornington Peninsula where, as a boy, his world was defined by the waves and sand.

Amor completed a Certificate of Art at the Caulfield Institute of Technology in 1965, and then, from 1966 to 1968, he studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne under John Brack and Murray Walker where he received an Associate Diploma of Painting. ** In 1967, Amor won the National Gallery Drawing Prize and, in 1968, he was awarded the National Gallery Traveling Scholarship, allowing him to travel and study in Europe. **

Amor became a full-time artist in 1972. In 1975, he was the recipient of the Visual Arts Board Grant. Following a solo exhibition at the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne in 1978, he became artist-in-residence there in 1980, honing his skills portraying workers and their industrial landscape. He painted in factories and taught painting at Pentridge Gaol. In these early days, Rick was also a poster-maker, illustrator and cartoonist for various Labor party publications, including Labor Star and Tribune, and trade union magazines, such as Locomotive Journal and Meat Employees’ Journal. During this time, Amor lived, with his wife and two children, in a house on ‘Mulberry Hill’, Joan Lindsay’s property at Baxter.

During the 1980s, Amor returned to printmaking, as well as painting, and his work became increasingly atmospheric in subject and style. Amor won the National Australia Bank Art Prize in 1988 and has been the recipient of several Australia Council studio residencies, which have allowed him to work in Barcelona (1991), New York (1995) and London (2000). In 1999, the Australian War Memorial appointed him as official war artist to travel and record events in East Timor. (Together with Wendy Sharpe, they were the first Australian war artists appointed in 30 years.) **

Amor currently lives and works in Melbourne. ** Amor has held over 60 solo exhibitions since first exhibiting at Joseph Brown Gallery in Melbourne in 1974. A major survey exhibition of his paintings was curated by McClelland Gallery in 1990 and toured various regional galleries in Victoria and South Australia. In 1993, an exhibition mounted by the Bendigo Art Gallery toured Victoria and Tasmania, presenting his work as a printmaker and graphic artist. An important exhibition of Rick’s bronze sculpture was undertaken by Benalla Art Gallery in 2002, including many maquettes never previously exhibited. In 2005, Robert Lindsay curated Rick Amor: Standing in the Shadows, the second major survey of Amor’s work to be presented at McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park. In March 2008, Heide Museum of Modern Art presented Rick Amor: A Single Mind, a triumphant survey of Rick’s paintings and works on paper from 1968 – 2008. ** The National Portrait Gallery curated the exhibition Rick Amor 21 Portraits in 2014-2015. ****

Amor has undertaken a number of commissions, including his sculpture, The Runner, for the Heide Museum of Modern Art in 1995-96, and his painting, The Arc, for the Benalla Art Gallery in 2003, depicting the aftermath of the bushfires in North-East Victoria. He has also completed numerous portrait commissions, including work for the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Gary Catalano’s biography The Solitary Watcher: Rick Amor and his Art, was published in 2001 and, in 2008, Gavin Fry’s richly illustrated monograph, Rick Amor, was published. **

Amor is one of the country’s most prominent figurative painters, inspired by both the Australian landscape and by urban images, most often in his home town of Melbourne. * He is also a skilled sculptor and printmaker. Amor says: “I’m a painter-printmaker and that’s an entirely different thing [to being solely a printmaker]”. ***

He has the engaging capacity to create works of diverse impact: his urban landscapes have a dull glow and strangely detached feel, showing decaying buildings, derelict factories and abandoned machinery; while, in his portraits, the light is brighter and the backgrounds more precise and benign. And whereas his seascapes feature dark threatening skies, wind-lashed white-topped waves, and trees bent low before the elements; his nudes and bronze sculptures are appreciated for their elegance.

Amor steps back from his work and lets it evolve, expertly applying layers of paint with loose brush strokes. He has been described as “able to transcend the initial quietness found in his paintings and transfix the viewer with gorgeously light-infused and structural representations of the world we live in. Amor is able to masterfully manipulate light in his works, often offset by a dark physical presence or structure.” *

While people in his urban landscapes are often like ghosts and his paintings can be seen as a bleak image of modern Australia, he says: “I'm just a painter, I paint pictures. I'm trying to evoke a poetic feel from the stuff of nature or life.”

Amor’s works are held in Collections across Australia, including the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, the Australian War Memorial, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery as well as other regional galleries, corporate collections and Universities throughout Australia and in many important private collections in Australia and overseas, including the British Museum in London.

* Artist Profile: Rich Amor, Steve Lopes, 2014 ** Rich Amor: Curriculum Vitae, Rick Amor website, September 2015 *** Rick Amor: Biography, Design & Art Australia Online, Joan Kerr, 1996 updated 2007 **** Rick Amor, National Portrait Gallery, updated 2019


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