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Sam Leach (born 1973) is an Australian contemporary artist. He was born in Adelaide, South Australia. Leach worked for many years in the Australian Tax Office after completion of a degree in Economics. He also completed a Diploma of Art, Bachelor of Fine Art degree and a Master of Fine Art degree at RMIT in Melbourne, Victoria. Leach currently resides in Melbourne. Leach’s work has been exhibited in several museum shows including “Optimism” at the Queensland Art Gallery and “Neo Goth” at the University of Queensland Art Museum in 2008, in 2009 “the Shilo Project” at the Ian Potter Museum of Art and “Horror Come Darkness” at the Macquarie University Art Gallery and “Still” at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in 2010. His work is held in public collections of regional galleries of Geelong, Gold Coast, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle and Gippsland and the collections of La Trobe University and the University of Queensland.
His portrait of musical comedian Tim Minchin won the Archibald Prize, one of Australia’s most noteworthy art prizes, in 2010. In the same year, he won the Wynne Prize for his landscape Proposed for landscaped cosmos. In doing so he became only the third artist after William Dobell and Brett Whiteley to win the Archibald portrait prize and the Wynne landscape prize in the same year. The award has generated some controversy due to the similarities, acknowledged by Leach, between his work and one by seventeenth-century Dutch artist Adam Pynacker.
Sam Leach’s works are informed by art history, science, and philosophy. He combines the poles of the metaphorical and the empirical, the analogous and the objective, in an ongoing investigation of the relationship between humans and animals. With a distanced, scientific approach, the artist draws connections between data visualisation techniques, semiotics, and formalist abstraction that results in a kind of reductive aesthetics. While the delicate interplay between formalist figuration and modernist abstraction in his paintings operates on one level to distance the viewer – to encourage them to look objectively at the subjects – on another level each animal depicted has a symbolic currency that resonates with the audience on a personal level. The paintings extend their focus from animal life to the spectrum of all life itself, encouraging the viewer to contemplate their role as living creatures on this shared earth.
In 2015, Sam Leach was featured in Time Space Existence, a collateral event of the Venice Biennale, and a major monograph with essays by Andrew Frost and esteemed fiction writer Tim Winton. In the same year, he completed an Art OMI Australia Committee Fellowship Residency in New York. In 2010, Leach won both Wynne and Archibald Prizes at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and he was a finalist for the Royal Bank of Scotland Emerging Artist Award in 2009. His work has been extensively exhibited nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Mercury, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney (2018); 6600+, curated by Vanessa Gerrans, Warrnambool Art Gallery, VIC (2018); Avian Interplanetary, Linden New Art, Melbourne (2017); Gravity Tractor, Sullivan+Strumpf, Singapore (2016); Crossing Borders, Palazzo Bembo, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); The Ecstasy of Infrastructure, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria (2012) and Cosmists, 24HR ART, Northern Territory of Contemporary Art, Darwin (2010). Recent group exhibitions include Dark (Other) Times, Plimsoll Gallery, University of Tasmania, Australia (2018); My Monster: The Human-Animal Hybrid, RMIT Gallery, City Campus, Melbourne (2018); Birds and Bees, Museum of Discovery, Adelaide (2018); Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013); SkyLab, La Trobe Regional Gallery, Victoria (2013); Haunts and Follies, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2012) and First Life Residency in Landscape, Xin Dong Cheng Space for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2011).
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Harvey Galleries was founded by the Harvey family in 1994 with an eye to establish a dynamic and inclusive contemporary art space on the North Shore of Sydney. For almost three decades we have expanded our reach to over three gallery locations and an ever expanding stable of the best artists Australia has to offer.
Harvey Galleries acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our galleries stand. The Guringai people (Seaforth), the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation (Sydney), and the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation (Melbourne).
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