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Jasper Knight

Title
Richard Gill
Medium
enamel, perspex and plywood on board
Dimensions
150 x 150cm
Further information

Richard Gill is one of Australia’s most esteemed conductors and an internationally recognised music educator. He is chorus director for Opera Australia and artistic director of their small-scale touring company OzOpera, chief conductor of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, artistic director of the Sydney Symphony’s Education Program and adviser for Musica Viva in Schools.

Jasper Knight has known Gill for some time. His grandmother was an early childhood English educator and collaborated with Gill. He was also taught music by Gill at school. “Whether he’s working with the chorus, musicians or children he’s got this fantastic manner, which is very controlling,” says Knight. “That’s what I was trying to get at: that classic Richard Gill look when he is doing what he loves, working with creative people.”

Mixed media has been the backbone of Knight’s practice for the last two years. For this portrait, he started with the construction of the portrait base layering pegboard, plywood and Perspex on board. “I like using recycled materials for the palette, finding faded things and signs,” he says. “The jigsaw of pieces is a large part of portrait itself with the enamel on top almost an afterthought. I really enjoy making it all from scratch – and that’s what takes the longest amount of time. The painting itself is lightning fast. This one took 24 hours using a variety of non-artist grade paints such as marine enamels.”

Knight is a figurative landscape artist: “not too abstract or figurative but neatly in between,” he says. His work is bold and quite “poppy” using primary colours and high gloss. “What I am most interested in is creating different surfaces,” he says. “The layers are like the paintbrush more than the actual paint.” He painted his first portrait in 1996 and this was his first entry in the Archibald.

Born in Sydney in 1978, Knight has painted full-time since completing a Masters in Painting at the College of Fine Art in 2003. He was a finalist in the Helen Lempriere Travelling Scholarship in 2003/2004, in the 2004 ABN AMRO Emerging Artist Prize, and in the 2003 Blake Prize. He had solo shows in 2003/2004 and has a work in this year’s Wynne Prize.