Jason Benjamin

Sailing to Byzantium on the Plains of NSW- Painter Jason Benjamin

Sydney 2017

Studying art in NYC in the late 80’s I came under the spell of Minimalist Art, artists such as Brice Marden, Agnes Martin and Carl Andre. The humility, discipline and restraint I found in reducing things to an essential colour or motif resonated with my Zen Buddhist personal foundation.

Thrust however into exile due to visa concerns I found myself quite unexpectedly back in Australia and a whole other visual, emotional landscape to render in the early 90’s. A History I had not studied. Artistically unmoored. Loosely following Georgia O’Keefe’s idea (having just read her biography) I thought I would head West (in Australia) keeping within NSW. My best friend and I clocked thousands of hours/kilometres over the decade: Lightning Ridge to Broken Hill, The Hay Plain and Monaro.

Slowly, always slowly, I started to find my visual vocabulary. The featureless repetition, the very lack of subject provided a stage to distill my interior landscape. For a long time only square canvases were used. The better to define the compositional possibilities I found in repetition. This also allowed a contrast to the little (writ large) still life paintings. The minutiae or Yin to the expansive Planes’ Yang.

Into the 2000’s I was generously invited to spend time at a friends station called Burrabogie on the Hay Plain of western NSW. This began a particular focus of absorbing a very small (self-imposed) perimeter repeatedly. From the edge of the Murrumbidgee River then out to the incredibly wide expanse of the plain itself.

All the while every year for over twenty years I would pass through the, at first, enigmatic plains of Southern NSW, the Monaro en route to Mt Kosciusko. When I learnt that this was the source of the Murrumbidgee I felt a sense of fate’s gentle nudge. I would focus my attention on the stages set, a painter’s zen garden, by these seemingly unremarkable spaces tethered poetically by river and road.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

W B Yeats

Selected Biography

1971 Born in Melbourne. Lives and works in Sydney
1989-90 Pratt Institute, New York City

Solo Exhibitions - Selected


Balentes: Life Of An Ancient Soul (Sardinia) Tusculum House, Sydney


"Practicing Calligraphy" Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane

"The Dreamers" Australian High Commission, Singapore


"Poems in an Elemental Garden" Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney

"Awoke In Light" Buratti Fine Art, Perth


Artist in Residence "A Clear Path" Red Gate Gallery Beijing, China

"Everyone Is Here" touring Survey Exhibition : Wagga Regioal Art Gallery, Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Dubbo Arts Centre, Cowra Regional Gallery, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery

"Great Adventures" Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane


"Post History" Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne


"The Waiting Garden" Greenhill Galleries, Perth

"I thought you’d always be here" BMG ART, Adelaide


"We Built Cities" Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane

"Shelter" Michael Reid at Elizabeth Bay, Sydney


"Written on Land" Michael Reid at Elizabeth Bay, Sydney

"Who you’re supposed to be" Hirokazu Degawa, Hillside Forum, Tokyo 14th-April 30th April

"Have you become my body?" Jan Murphy Gallery 14th March- 20th March


"Set yourself free" Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, 14th June

"Seven paths to her heart" Hirokazu Degawa, Tokyo, Japan, 4th April

"If the air could speak" Galleria Tondinelli, Rome Italy, 15th February


"Where dreams go" BMG ART , 6TH October - 28th October

"Borderland" Greenhill Galleries, Perth, 15 September - 6th October


"There is a place" Metro 5 Art Gallery, Melbourne, 5th October - 29th October

"Because of you I see a light" Metro 5 Gallery, Sydney Art Fair, October


"Lost time" Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, 12 November - 27 November

"In a heartbeat" Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, 24th March- 22nd April


"Don’t look down" Nicola Townsend & Hirokazu Degawa, Daikanyama, Tokyo, Japan

"The Clearing" Greenhill Galleries, Perth, 10 October- 28th October


"Lifting up the sun" Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, 10 Sept - 28 Sept

"Unbound"Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane

"This is love" Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, 17 April- 5th May


"I found the world so new", Tim Olsen Gallery & Amanda Wolfe-Daimpre, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, 4th October - 17th October

"Stronger than you think" 28 Charlotte St Gallery, London, England, 15 March- 7th April

"Make it home" Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne,10th March- 31st March

"Good Luck" Greenhill Galleries, Perth, 22nd May - 12 June


"Belong" Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, 30th May - 17th June

"Hold" Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, 17th August - 2nd September

"The hand upon your Back" Greenhill Galleries, Perth, 14th March - 4th April


"First came joy" Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, 3rd August- 21st August


"There are things you don’t see coming" Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney

"Hopeful Prey" Greenhill Galleries, Perth, 10th November- 27th November

"Ghosts amongst the Angels" Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney, 12 August- 30th August


"Covered by the Rushes" Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney, 8th October- 19th October


"The apple trees" Crawford Gallery, Sydney


Trinity College, Dallas, Texas, USA

Group Exhibitions


Tattersalls Landscape Prize, Brisbane


Tattersalls Landscape Prize, Brisbane


Tattersall’s Landscape Prize, Brisbane


Tattersalls Landscape Prize, Brisbane

Doug Moran National Portrait Prize

Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane

Greenhill Galleries, Perth


Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 30th April - 3rd July

Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, 9th July- 7th August

Moree Plains Gallery, 13th August- 11th September

Cowra Art Gallery, 17 September- 16 October

Albury Regional Art Gallery, 21 October- 13 November

Victorian Arts Centre, 25th November- 19th February, 2006

Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane, 18 March - 9 April


"Post-Modern and Contemporary Australian Art", Savill Galleries, Sydney, 17 April- 8th May

Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales


"William Creek and Beyond", Ballarat Fine Art Gallery touring exhibition, Shepparton Art Gallery, Tamworth City Gallery, New England Regional Art Museum, Noosa Regional Art Gallery, Gold Coast City Gallery, Gladstone Regional Art Gallery Museum, The Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra Cowra Art Gallery.

Savill Contemporary, Melbourne, 10 April- 11th May

Art Miami, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Miami, USA


3-person show, Bunkamura Gallery, in conjunction with Nicola Townsend and Hirokazu Degawa Tokyo, Japan

4x4 Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane

Art London 2002, London, England

The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize,

First Birthday Exhibition, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, 8th May - 16th June


Art London 2001, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, England, 22nd May - 26th May

Nicola Townsend, Tokyo, Japan

Landscape Painting, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne

Hills Grammar Art Award, Sydney


Meet 2 x 2, Tim Olsen Gallery Sydney

Ten Australian Artists, Australian high commission Singapore

Nicola Townsend, Tokyo, Japan

Kings School Art Prize, Sydney

Norvill Landscape Prize, Murrundi

Conrad Jupiter Art Prize, Brisbane

Fleurieu Landscape Prize, South Australia

Tattersalls Landscape prize, Sydney


Millennium Art Prize

University and Schools Club, Sydney

Westpac Art Prize, SCEGGS Redlands, Sydney

Tattersalls Landscape Prize, Brisbane

Kings School Art Prize, Sydney


Salon de Refuses, SH Erwin Gallery, Sydney

Painting is not Dead, Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney

Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne


Kings School Art Prize, Sydney

Jeans for Genes, Gianni Versace, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Devoured by Paint

Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney


Mosman Art Prize, Sydney


Exhibition with furniture, David Jones, Sydney


Mosman Art Prize, Sydney

Exhibition for David Jones Spring Flower Show, Sydney


Mosman Art Prize, Sydney

Salon de Refuses, SH Erwin Gallery, Sydney


Gary Anderson Gallery, Sydney


Mars, New York City


Australian National Gallery, Canberra

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Derwent Collection, Tasmania

Artbank, Sydney

Tweed River Regional Art Gallery

Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Macquarie Bank, Victoria

Ballarat Art Gallery, Victoria

Shepperton Art Gallery, Victoria

Gold Coast City Gallery, Queensland

Mornington Peninsular Regional Gallery

Art Space Makay. Regional Art Gallery and Museum

Castlemaine Regional Art Gallery

Parliament House Art Collection


2014 Finalist, Archibald Prize

2013 Finalist, Fleurieu Landscape Prize

2013 Finalist, Archibald Prize

2012 Finalist, Gold Award, Rockhampton Art Gallery

2012 Finalist, Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery

2011 Finalist, Archibald Prize

2011 Finalist, Tattersall’s Landscape Prize

2011 Finalist, Albany Art Prize

2010 Finalist, Tattersal’s Landscape Prize

2006 Finalist, Doug Moran Portrait Prize

2005 Packing Room Prize, Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales

2004 Finalist, Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales

2002 Finalist, The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize

1997 Kings School Art Prize


2004, Unfinished Journey, overseas project, exhibition and publication

2003, Queen Mary 11, London, sixteen paintings for new cruise ship

2002 William Creek and Beyond

2001, Lake Eyre and Beyond, collaborative project involving ten prominent artists for exhibition, a publication and print folio

2001, Burswood Hotel, Perth

2000 Chanel, Australia