Ben Quilty grew up in North Western Sydney. Some of his mates still live there: in shed-land. Others, including Quilty, return to the city’s outskirts from time to time for the rituals of mateship and masculinity: 21sts, buck’s parties and more recently, head-wetting ceremonies. Quilty is both participant and observer in these rites. He is one of the "lost boys", forever in search of youth and action. He is also a husband, father and one of the country’s rising art stars. While Quilty’s subjects are immediate and highly personal, they are also in effect vanitas motifs; symbolic reminders of life’s transience. His beloved 1972 LJ Torana, his renditions of heavy metal t-shirt designs, his Jekyll and Hyde rendering of fellow artist Adam Cullen and even his tender portrait of his baby son Joe, are all pithy reminders of our mortality.
|In One for the road (2003), intended as Quilty’s last Torana painting, the LJ collides with the right-hand side of the picture plane, bringing the car and the painting to a violent halt. Doors flung open, the revellers have left the scene and abandoned their prize.
From the publication Ben Quilty 2009
In October 2009, Germaine Greer discussed this work of Quilty's, in her article Schoolboy doodles? Hardly. Ben Quilty's cars are a glimpse into the male psyche
Ben Quilty was born a year after the Holden LJ Torana was built. The car was his darling, his ticket to ride, his way out of wherever. In One for the Road (the banal but ominous title is typical), the car is trapped by the picture edge, which cuts off the front end. It is violated, empty, front and rear doors open, and lit by a harsh overhead light, as if it were a crime scene. Behind it there is utter darkness. We cannot know what has happened, or if anything has happened.