Jo Bertini is an award winning, established Australian artist. She is a painter, art educator, lecturer and writer. She is known internationally for her paintings and drawings of desert landscapes, people and animals. Her work has been acquired by private and public collections both nationally and internationally and is on display in many public art galleries, museums and institutions. She has a history of thirty years as a professional exhibiting artist. Her paintings have been curated in hundreds of solo, group and touring exhibitions, including exhibitions in Australia, China, Malaysia, USA and India. She has been widely published and reproduced and her work is included in films and television documentaries and programs. She has been awarded many art prizes, commissions and public art installations for museums, corporations and city councils and many unique international artist residencies. For ten years she worked as an Expedition Artist on scientific and ecological survey expeditions into the most remote and inaccessible desert regions of Australia. A published art book, ‘Fieldwork - Jo Bertini’ celebrates her long and intimate engagement with the Australian desert. She continues to focus her artistic interests on desert people and places, painting and working in some of the most remote and inaccessible desert regions of the world.
I’ve watched Jo at work- the first time was when I met her in the desert. It was transporting. She takes what she sees, concentrates it and renders it until it becomes a symbolic place, a symbolic desert. They’re like the sort of places I sometimes get to in a dream and recognise in a dream and feel at home in. When she is painting the desert I feel she is painting something that is within me and then it’s layered with all kinds of symbols as deserts are in aboriginal culture and obviously in our culture as well that feeling of transcendence.They have that quality- that quality that lifts them out of being mere beautiful representations of the desert. They have a bigger meaning. (Robyn Davidson, Writer)
It is only possible to paint the desert with knowledge. Jo Bertini has been very fortunate in going into the desert repeatedly and in the company of men and women who have deep knowledge of many aspects of its natural and human histories. Her paintings feel like a conversation about the desert – one in which we partake, a shared journey of discovery. And, as in every painting Jo Bertini has made of the desert, colour wants to overflow the confines of the canvas and run through the desert, carrying life. (Andrew Sayers, AM, former director National Museum of Australia and National Portrait Gallery of Australia.)
Jo Bertini is an Australian artist over the decades for whom the desert has become an essential subject, whose paintings resonate from the personal to a wider manifesto. That doesn’t come easily. The struggle is not for control, for taming the desert as others might have tamed the bush - but to expose slender moments of revelation when the desert appears as it is, and the people in it are transformed through being there. The result is powerful and transformative. A few minutes alone with her paintings and the authorised, realist version of the arid landscape slips away, and we are facing the beautiful, strange desert of our imagination, once again.’ (Dr. Philip Jones, Senior Curator South Australian Museum.)
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