Teo Treloar takes out prestigious drawing prize

Visual arts lecturer receives Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award for work exploring depression

Teo Treloar takes out prestigious drawing prize

Teo Treloar, a lecturer in Visual Arts at the University of Wollongong (UOW), has received the 2020 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) from Grafton Regional Gallery, during a ceremony held last Friday (2 October).

Teo was recognised for his work, This Is Impermanence, for one of the most prestigious drawing prizes in the country.

The award was announced during an online ceremony, hosted by Niomi Sands, Director of Grafton Regional Gallery, and media personality Rove McManus.

The JADA celebrates drawing in all its forms, from the expressive and the abstract, to hyper-realism. The prize is worth $35,000.

This Is Impermanence is a graphite pencil drawing that reflects on multiple ideas, including Teo’s experiences with depression and anxiety, contemporary concepts of masculinity, the master engravings of Albrecht Durer, the existential literature of Franz Kafka, and the music of the post punk band, Joy Division.

The drawings featured in the work are intended to present a speculative visual platform for viewers to engage with; allowing them to deconstruct the image and find meaning on their own terms. Teo’s drawing is a manifestation of these experiences and ideas.

It was judged the winner of the JADA by Peter McKay, Curatorial Manager of Australian Art at Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.

Teo Treloar's artwork This Is Impermanence. Photo: Paul Jones

Teo Treloar’s artwork, This Is Impermanence, which won the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award. Photo: Paul Jones

Teo, who is also the Visual Arts Discipline Advisor at UOW, said last year that he had grappled with mental health issues throughout his life. It is the pain of depression that has helped him to create many of his amazing, detailed works of art.

Last year, his works were chosen from artists around the country to be included in an exhibition titled The National 2019: New Australian Art. His series, The Black Captain, which explored his experiences with anxiety and depression, spent a month on display at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

Teo said This Is Impermanence was originally part of that series, but his aim was for the audience to draw their own conclusions about its meaning.

“There is a broad set of influences here at work but the drawings should not be viewed in such specific terms,” Teo said. “Generally I make speculative drawings with no specific meaning; that’s because I like the viewer to engage with the work on their own terms and define meaning for themselves. Importantly the work is really about drawing and the creative act and how I make sense of the world through it.”

Being named the winner of the JADA was a huge moment for Teo, who said just being part of the finalists chosen for the award was an incredible honour.

“Winning the award is terrific and feels like a validation of my practice and work,” he said. “In saying that art awards are super competitive, just getting in is an achievement. I think there were nearly 700 centres, and 50 or so artists were chosen as finalists.

“I feel humbled and grateful that the judge chose my work against such excellent entries and artists who I have long admired.”

This Is Impermanence will be on display as part of the JADA exhibition at Grafton Regional Gallery until 22 November.

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