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.
White portrait, Tao Triebels
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
Not on display
© David Fairbairn
Dobell Prize for Drawing (discontinued)
Shown in 3 exhibitions
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:
- Grafton Regional Gallery 15 Feb 2013–24 Mar 2013
- Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Booragul 30 Mar 2013–05 May 2013
- Orange Regional Gallery, Orange 05 Jul 2013–18 Aug 2013
- National Art School, Darlinghurst 29 Aug 2013–06 Oct 2013
- Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah 18 Oct 2013–24 Nov 2013
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 11 Apr 2014–18 May 2014
Referenced in 9 publications
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, 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, 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, Look, 'Drawing the spotlight', pg. 18-19, Sydney, 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, Sydney, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 276 (colour illus.).
Sebastian Smee, The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Lucky scratch’, pg. 15, Sydney, 23 Mar 1999, 15 (colour illus.).