Steve Cox (artist)
|Born||Steven Martin Cox
Harringay, London, England
|Education||Victorian College of the Arts|
|Known for||Predominantly watercolour, gouache, ink, collage on paper.|
Steve Cox (born 1958) is an Australian painter and writer, known for his psychologically penetrating images of youths and young men; stream of consciousness landscapes and animal/human hybrids. He writes art-related and queer-related articles and reviews for various publications.
Early life and education
Cox was born in Harringay, London, England and arrived in Melbourne, Australia in 1968, when his family emigrated. He studied painting at the Victorian College of the Arts from 1978 to 1980, where one of his main lecturers was Gareth Sansom. In 1983 he was awarded the Keith & Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowship and subsequently spent eighteen months making work in London and Cairo. Also in 1983, he was included in the important survey of Australian art, Perspecta, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In 1989 he was awarded an Australia Council grant to spend three months making work at the Villa Ghedini, in Besozzo, Northern Italy.
Cox has written numerous essays and articles on the suppression of homoeroticism in western art since the Renaissance, and the ways in which artists have managed to circumvent this censure.
His early work dealt with the aberrant psychology of murderers and their victims. In 1987 he staged an exhibition of paintings, 'Beyond Belief', which documented the 1960s British Moors murderers. Cox has also exhibited paintings of the serial killers Dennis Nilsen, Peter Manuel and Peter Kurten - the latter work being purchased for the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
In 1995, his exhibition Kinderspiel (Child’s Play) dealt exclusively with the subject of children who kill other children. His 1996 Masters Thesis (Deakin University), titled ‘Murder and Art: the Causal Links’, drew parallels between the creative mind of the artist and the murderous mind of the serial killer.
Cox has explored the phenomena of dance culture, a subject that has spawned five exhibitions of portraits of clubbers, party-drug takers and bouncers, most notably in Rave: Club Culture (2000), Ecstasy: a celebration (2000) and Confessions of a Raving Lunatic (2002).
As a gay artist, Cox has often featured homoeroticism within his work. His exhibition Testosterone Zone (1996) dealt with, amongst other things, frank male nudity and the still-existing taboo over public representations of male genitalia. To this end, he has always been outspoken against censorship in the arts, as seen in an interview in issue 11 of Artist Profile magazine (2010). and Cox's article, commissioned by The Guardian,.
For decades, Cox's imagery has often been surreal, using unsettling juxtapositions of symbols. In The New Agrarian (1991), a partially nude boxer spars alone in front of a blackboard in an otherwise empty field. In Jelly Kitten (2005) a cartoon cat's head is simultaneously a portrait of a cute children's cartoon character and a tormented mind, perhaps reminiscent of Sidney Nolan's Gallipoli series, which featured portraits of returned soldiers.
In 2016, Cox was commissioned to paint a massive mural on the wall of the restaurant, Grub Food Van, in Fitzroy, Melbourne. He based this major work on Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne, in the National Gallery, London.
In 2014 and 2015 Cox was the London arts editor of NakedButSafe magazine, for which he conducted several interviews with other artists, including:
‘Interview with David Henry Brown Jnr’, NakedButSafe, issue 10, 2015.
‘Interview with Helmut Middendorf’, NakedButSafe, issue 10, 2015.
He has contributed art-related articles, art reviews and interviews with other artists to a number of newspapers, magazines and journals. These include:
‘Censorship is Killing Australia’s Artistic Freedom of Expression’, The Guardian, 14 June 2013.
‘The (Near) Death of Painting in Art School Lite’, Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 4, April, 2013.
‘The Great Alchemist: Sigmar Polke at Tate Modern’, Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 8, November, 2014.
‘Marlene Dumas: The Burden of Image – Tate Modern’, Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 7, March, 2015.
‘Leon Golub Survey Exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery’, Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 8, June, 2015.
'Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy', Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 12, 2015.
‘Love, Pain and the Whole Damned Thing’, Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 14, May, 2016.
'Interview with Slava Mogutin', Vault: New Art & Culture, issue 15, 2016.
‘Cary Kwok: The Pleasure Principle’, Vault New Art & Culture, issue 16, November, 2016.
'Interview with Philippe Parreno', Vault New Art & Culture, issue 16, November, 2016.
'Interview with Dome Karukoski', Gay Times UK, January, 2017.
Since 1982 he has staged over thirty-five one-person exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, and has participated in over fifty group-exhibitions, including Moist: Australian Watercolours, (2005) at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and This and Other Worlds, (2005) at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. In 2008 he was included in True Crime: Murder and Misdemeanour in Australian Art, at the Geelong Art Gallery.
In 2014 he staged an exhibition of 165 works on paper, Inferno: A Reinterpretation of Dante, at BUS Gallery, Melbourne, in which he re-investigated imagery from Dante's Inferno - a major work from this exhibition was purchased for the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
In 2008 the artist set up the 'Steve Cox Prize for Drawing' at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. It ran until 2012.
Cox's work is held in The National Gallery of Australia, The National Gallery of Victoria and other important public and private collections throughout Australia. His work has been featured in Nevill Drury's New Art series of books, and in Sonia Payes' Untitled, a book of photographic portraits of contemporary Australian artists.
He is represented by William Mora Galleries in Melbourne.
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- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
- Ian Potter Centre, Melbourne
- La Trobe University Collection, Melbourne
- University of Sydney Collection, NSW
- Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC
- Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne
- Benalla Art Gallery
- The Estate of Reggie Kray
- The Estate of Francis Bacon
- Perspecta catalogue, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1983
- Love, Pain and the Whole Damned Thing: the vulnerable male figure in the exhibition Tough and Tender, VAULT: New Art & Culture, issue 14, 2016
- Cox Jettisons Obsession to Find Compassion, Gary Catalano, The Age, 5.24.89
- Child's Play, Colin Shingleton, Art Monthly, April 1995
- Method in the Madness, Peter Timms, The Age, 4.12.00
- Flynn, Paul (2010). "Steve Cox". Artist Profile (11): 76–81.
- ‘'Censorship is Killing Australia’s Artistic Freedom of Expression'’, Steve Cox, The Guardian, 14th June, 2013
- Moist: Australian Watercolours catalogue, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2005
- This and Other Worlds catalogue, National Gallery of Victoria, 2005
- True Crime: Murder and Misdemeanour in Australian Art catalogue, Geelong Art Gallery, 2008.
- Images in Contemporary Australian Painting, Neville Drury, Craftsman House, 1992
- Untitled: Portraits of Australian Artists, Sonia Payes, Macmillan, 2007
- Artist Profile magazine, issue 11, 2010, pp 76 -81.
- Young Australians catalogue, National Gallery of Victoria, 1987
- "Contemporary Voices: Steven Cox", Roger Taylor, Asian Art News, Vol 5 No.3, May/June, 1995
- "A Bleak Outlook Isn't Always Bad", Robert Rooney, The Australian, 5.16.89
- "The Misadventures of Cap'n Kirk", Robert Rooney, Weekend Australian, 5.20.89
- "Face to Face With Childhood's Darkest Side", Robert Rooney, The Australian, 1.29.94
- "Another Walk on the Wild Side", Adam Dutkiewicz, The Adelaide Avertiser, 6.4.97
- "Sex, Violence and All Things Underneath", Peter Timms, The Age, 3.10.99
- Artist Profile magazine, issue 11, 2010