James Ackhurst is a Sydney-based painter who adopts iconic imagery from literature, Christianity and popular culture, often in a compositional style drawn from neo-classical principles. His depictions of vampires, monsters, religious figures and celebrities create an uneasy but intriguing dichotomy between classical settings and the artist’s own narrative.
Based at Project Insideout at Macquarie Hospital in Sydney’s North West, Ackhurst’s technical proficiency challenges perceptions of art created within a mental health context and “provides demonstrable proof of the presence of genuinely talented artists within the health system” (Hugh Nichols, 2011).
The often challenging content of the works represent a detailed and sophisticated awareness of a contemporary art context, while simultaneously parodying the styles that Ackhurst references.
The haunting 2005; tempera, acrylic on board; 90 x 122cm; Courtesy the artist
Beheading of St John the Baptist 2005; tempera, acrylic on board; 90 x 121cm; Courtesy the artist