We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Anything I say or do



Adam Cullen


09 Oct 1965 – 28 Jul 2012

Alternate image of Anything I say or do by Adam Cullen
Alternate image of Anything I say or do by Adam Cullen
Alternate image of Anything I say or do by Adam Cullen
  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    synthetic polymer paint on canvas
    153.0 x 214.0 cm
    Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2003
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Adam Cullen/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Adam Cullen

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Adam Cullen's darkly satirical paintings continue to document the flaccid underbelly of contemporary Australian life. They embody a breakdown in the ability to process the 'white noise' of information we encounter daily, from news as entertainment to graffiti, telephone pad doodles, games shows, and punning word plays. Fragments of familiar sentences and images surface in Cullen's paintings, out of context and invested with a surplus of meaning. Cullen's seemingly non-hierarchical choice of references suggests an inability to make value judgements, as if our ethical and moral junk mail filters have been turned off. The underpinnings of our higher cultural and social aspirations surfaces as if our collective unconscious is an endless loop of cheap entertainment and wasted time.

    Cullen's social allegories form a cutting portrait of the banal underpinnings of our national psyche, caught in a suspended stage of development. Our pride in being a 'young nation', our admiration for the antihero, and our insistence on doing it our way also leaves us trapped in a perpetual and self-consciously puerile adolescence. Cullen's bad faith with the information that shapes our selves and our nation, is seemingly mirrored in a bad faith in the role of the artist and in painting itself. While Cullen may point to what he sees as being adrift in our society, he also replicates these same traits in his work. This is not satire with a redemptive intent. This painting combines passages of Cullen's more gestural style, with dripping, running and layered paint, interspersed with graffiti-like block letter text and caricature-like figures.

    The artist is not just channelling material, he is firmly in control of his artistic repertoire and the visual language of attenuated forms, headless torsos, isolated figures and carefully placed text.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Adam Cullen

See all 11 works