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

Adam Cullen Nelson and Koko

acrylic on canvas

183 x 183 cm

Nelson Woss is the producer of the hugely successful 2011 Australian film Red dog. Koko was the red kelpie star of the film. Winner of the 2012 Samsung AACTA (formerly AFI) Award for Best Film, Red dog was not only the highest grossing Australian film of 2011 but is now among the top 20 most successful Australian films of all time.

Woss’s career includes extensive work in Hollywood. His other producing credits include Venus & Mars, Rockin’ good times and Ned Kelly starring Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom.

‘I saw the film Red dog and I was impressed,’ says Adam Cullen. ‘I really enjoyed it, it’s a great Australian film. I received a call from Nelson asking if I would paint the dog. I said, “I’d love to but how about I paint you both for the Archibald?” So that was rather fortuitous.

‘Nelson is a wonderful film producer and I love the dog. He’s a handsome, charming animal. I’ve always been incredibly fond of kelpies. I love that colour and when you’ve got a red animal like that all the other colours seem to flare up around them.’

Cullen is an equally colourful character in the art world, known for his use of dark imagery in vivid paintings that provoke a visceral response. He won the Archibald Prize in 2000 with a portrait of actor David Wenham.

Born in Sydney in 1965, Cullen has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the City Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of NSW. An exhibiting artist since 1990, he has shown work in over 120 group and solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas. In 2008, the Art Gallery of New South Wales mounted a major survey of his work called Let’s get lost and in 2006 Penrith Regional Art Gallery had a 10-year retrospective of his works on paper. He won the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize in 2008 and the Mosman Art Prize in 2005 and is represented in every Australian state gallery as well as in numerous regional galleries and private collections around Australia. This is his 11th time in the Archibald Prize.