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Imants Tillers was born in Sydney in 1950, the eldest child of Latvian immigrants. In 1973 he graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture (Hons), and the University Medal.
As one of Australia's most significant artists, Tillers has been at the forefront of contemporary art for over three decades. Since 1981 Tillers has used his signature canvasboards to explore themes relevant to contemporary culture, from the centre/periphery debates of the 1980s, to the effects of migration, displacement and diaspora. Most recently, his paintings have been concerned with place, locality and evocations of the landscape.
Tillers has exhibited widely since the late 1960s, and has represented Australia at important international exhibitions such as the São Paulo Bienal in 1975, Documenta 7 in 1982, and the 42nd Venice Biennale in 1986. Major solo surveys of his work include Imants Tillers: works 1978 – 1988 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1988); Imants Tillers: 19301, at the National Art Gallery, Wellington (1989); Diaspora, National Art Museum, Riga, Latvia (1993); Diaspora in Context at the Pori Art Museum, Pori (1995); Towards Infinity: Works by Imants Tillers, Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO) in Monterrey, Mexico (1999); and in 2006 a major retrospective of his work, Imants Tillers: one world many visions, was held at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. His works were exhibited again in Latvia in Journey to Nowhere at the National Museum of Art in 2018. Tillers has also exhibited in numerous group exhibitions around the world, including An Australian Accent at PS1, New York (1984); Antipodean Currents at the Guggenheim Museum, Soho (1995); Australian Perspecta (1981,1987-89);" The Osaka Triennale of Painting" !990 The World Over/Under Capricorn: Art in the Age of Globalisation at the City Gallery, Wellington and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1996); the Biennale of Sydney (1979, 1986, 1988, and 2006); Kunst Nach Kunst (Art After Art), at the Neues Museum Weserburg, Germany (2003); and Prism, at the Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo (2006).
Awards and commissions
Tillers has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions, such as the Osaka Triennale Prize (Gold in 1993, Bronze in 1996, and Silver in 2001), the inaugural Beijing International Art Biennale Prize for Excellence (2003) and the Wynne Prize (2012 and 2013). He was the Archibald Prize finalist in 2013 and 2016.
Major commissions include the Federation Pavilion, Centennial Park (1985 – 87); the Founding Donors Painting, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (1991), and two key sculptures for Sydney Olympic Park (2002). Tillers has been a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales since 2001. In 2005 he was awarded a Doctor of Letters honoris causa for 'his long and distinguished contribution to the field of arts', by the University of New South Wales.
In 2015 Tillers was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to design a commemorative tapestry on the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The tapestry, Avenue of Remembrance, also made reference to The Gallipoli Letter, written by Keith Murdoch to then Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, which is widely thought to have helped end the Gallipoli campaign.
Tillers' work can be found in every Australian state gallery collection, the National Gallery of Australia and many regional collections. Internationally Tillers' work is in many significant collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The National Museum of Art, Riga in Latvia, The Pori Art Museum, Finland, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tmaki, New Zealand and many others.
- Art Gallery of NSW. Retrieved 9 September 2016
- Australian artist Imants Tillers embraces his Latvian roots in major exhibition in Riga
- Andrew Taylor  Hugo Weaving portrait wins Archibald, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 2013.
- Arts Monash Tillers
- Imants Tillers at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
- Imants Tillers at Arc One Gallery