The HKU Museum Society is pleased to present a very special dinner talk featuring Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans. The only artist chosen to paint an Official portrait of The Queen in Her Diamond Jubilee Year, the work received widespread international acclaim when it was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia in 2012, drawing record numbers of visitors to the Gallery. In a rare act of acquisition, it now forms part of the permanent collection of Westminster Abbey, where it will serve as the centrepiece of the Triforium Gallery on the upper level of the Abbey.
The talk will focus on the artist’s unique contribution to contemporary Royal portraiture. He will discuss the inspirations and ideas behind his celebrated portraits of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and the soon to be released portrait of The Prince of Wales, along with other works for the British and Danish Royal family. The artist will explore the historical tradition of this ancient and fascinating genre of art, as a means of highlighting where he has sought to push the boundaries of Royal portraiture for a contemporary audience.
Ralph Heimans is amongst a new generation of Australian portraitists. He was first recognised in 1987 when, aged seventeen, he won the National Art Award. Since then he has completed a degree in Fine Arts and Pure Mathematics at Sydney University and studied at the Julian Ashton Art School.
Heimans’ large-scale portraits are renowned for their innovative compositions that offer engaging narratives about his subjects and their life stories. His sitters include extraordinary individuals who have made a significant contribution in the fields of arts, academia, law, business, politics and philanthropy. Their portrayals are informed by a creative integration of subject and context. Figures are placed in complex spatial arrangements, underpinned by an innovative use of geometry, reflection and perspective. His technical approach pays homage to the 17th Century masters of chiaroscuro, exploiting exquisite effects of light, which appear to illuminate the inner world of his subjects.
Heimans’ works are held in major international collections including Westminster Abbey, The Royal Collection, The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, The National Portrait Gallery of Australia, The National History Museum of Denmark, Australia’s Parliament House and The European Court in Luxembourg. In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia for services to portraiture.