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An image of Portrait of Tao Triebels by David Fairbairn

David Fairbairn

(Australia, England, Zambia 28 Dec 1949 – )

Portrait of Tao Triebels
Other titles:
White portrait, Tao Triebels
Place of origin
WedderburnSydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Media categories
Drawing, Print
Materials used
charcoal, white chalk, brush and black ink drawn on four sheets of white wove paper

142.7 x 110.5 cm sheet, overall; 151.7 x 121.0 x 3.8 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r.corner, pen and ink "David Fairbairn '98".
Gift of the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation 1999
Accession number
© David Fairbairn
Not on display
Further information

The subject of this drawing is an environmental engineer, Tao Triebels, who lives near the artist in the Macarthur region, south-west of Sydney. It is from a large ongoing series of monumental drawings of heads, all of local people and drawn from life, made by David Fairbairn over several years. In these he aims to present something of the subject’s personality, as well as appearance: ‘Ideas that are embodied in the works include contours, mapping and landscape – think of the head as something you walk across … ’ (David Fairbairn, 1999). 'Portrait of Tao Triebels' is drawn in charcoal, ink and chalk over four joined drypoint etchings. The latter were made using traditional intaglio tools as well as grinders, power tools and drills that resulted in deeply scored, printed black marks. A selection of related drawings, including other portraits of Tao Triebels, was exhibited in 'Headstrong: works by David Fairbairn' at the Casula Powerhouse in 2000.

This work won the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 1999 and was acquired by the Gallery in 1999.

Bibliography (9)

Elizabeth Fortescue, The Daily Telegraph, ‘Drawing on a well of passion’, pg. 42, Sydney, 09 Apr 1999, 42.

Prue Gibson, Artist profile [issue 5], 'David Fairbairn: using prints as the armature of painting', pg. 36-40, Sydney, Jul 2008, 38, 40 (colour illus.).

Lou Klepac, Lineage: David Gairbairn selected portraits 1998-2010, 'Drawing out the hidden image', pg. 6-9, Campbelltown, 2010, 7, 64.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘Introduction’, pg. 6-14, Sydney, 2012, 9, 32, 33 (colour illus.), 60.

Hendrik Kolenberg, The Dobell Prize for Drawing: 1993-2004, ‘Introduction: the first ten years’, pg. 8-9, Sydney, 2004, 8, 28, 29 (colour illlus.), 50, 52.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Drawing the spotlight', pg. 18-19, Newtown, Jun 2002, 19 (colour illus.).

Janet McKenzie, Contemporary Australian drawing #1, 'David Fairbairn', pg. 76-77, South Yarra, 2012, 76 (colour illus.), 77.

Peter Pinson, Art and Australia (Vol. 40, No. 2), 'Common ground: four Wedderburn painters', pg. 270-277, St Leonards, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 276 (colour illus.).

Sebastian Smee, The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Lucky scratch’, pg. 15, Sydney, 23 Mar 1999, 15 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

Dobell Prize for Drawing 1999, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Mar 1999–09 May 1999

Lineage: David Fairbairn selected portraits 1999-2010:

Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 Years of the Dobell Drawing Prize: