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Andrew Sullivan has recently returned to portraiture after a couple of year’s break. But he only paints people he likes, “people who I think should be in paint. People who I respect and appreciate enough to want to record.” After one sitting he works largely from photographs. “I can’t handle people sitting in front of me,” he says. “That’s why I don’t do commissions. I paint people I know because then I don’t need them [to sit] a lot. You just know whether you’ve captured them in the portrait or not because you know them so well.”
David Fleming, the subject of this portrait, is a friend of Sullivan’s. Born in Bolivia, he was raised in Paraguay by missionary parents. He spent his teenage years in New Zealand and has been in Australia since 1997.
One of Sullivan’s favourite books is Guy Sajer’s The Forgotten Soldier, about the horrors of World War II on the Eastern Front as seen through the eyes of a teenaged German soldier. As to why Sullivan has painted Fleming as the forgotten soldier, “it’s a long story,” he says. And he’d rather leave it at that and let the painting speak for itself.
Born in Sydney in 1966, Sullivan started painting in 1994 after attending the National Art School. He has been painting ever since. He has had seven solo shows over the last seven years at Queen Street Fine Art in Sydney and at the Australian Galleries in Melbourne and Sydney. His work has been seen in numerous group shows including the Salon des Refuses and the Doug Moran Portraiture Prize.