artists represented


1917 – 2 August, born in Hurstville, New South Wales

1932 – 36 Studied painting privately under Edward Smith

1936 – 39 Taught in eleven convent schools on Sydney, Joined the Fra Angelico’s Painting Guild which met at Peter Dodd’s Art School on Bathurst Street. Attended first meeting of the Contemporary Art Society in Sydney and exhibited in the Archibald Prize in 1937, 1938 and 1939

1940 – Enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps. Was sent to Palestine and then Greece. Taken prisoner in Greece in and after seven months in Athens was sent to a prisoner-of-war-camp in Poland. Here he ran art classes and painted with materials supplied by the red cross.

1944 – returned to Australia with Jesse Martin and held a joint exhibition of works done in a prisoner of war camp at Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1945 – Joined the ‘Sydney Group’ of Artists. Moved into the house Merioola Sydney also occupied by a number of others involved in the arts

1946 – Became art master at Cranbrook School, Sydney, a position he held until 1967.

1947 – Held solo exhibition at David Jones Gallery. Exhibited with The Merioola Group then left Sydney for a tow year study tour of Europe. Travelled in England, France and Italy with Peter Dodd who taught him much of dynamic symmetry and colour theory.

1949 – Held solo exhibition at the Hanover Galleries, London, and then returned to Australia

1951 – Awarded the Blake Prize for Religious Art. Exhibited with ‘Unseco’ Exhibition, London and Paris.

1953 – Included in Arts Council of Great Britain Exhibition to celebrate the Coronation in London

1956 – 57 – Included in Exhibition organised by Orient Line on SS Orcades and in ‘Twelve Australian Artists’ at the New Burlington Gallery, London.

1959 – Commissioned to paint the series ‘Stations of the Cross’, St Francis Xavier Cabrini Hospital Chapel, Malvern, Victoria

1962 – Awarded Darcy Morris Memorial Prize

1963 – Included ‘Antipodean Vision’ Exhibition at Tate Gallery, London

1964 – Lives on the Greek Island Skyros for four months

1967 – Resigns from the teaching post at Cranbrook School and returns to Greece living first on Lesbos and then on Skyros Island. Late in 1967 goes to Rome where he lived until his death in 1996.

1968 – Commissioned to design a mosaic to represent the Southern Hemisphere in the Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel.

1972 – 74 – Works in the Tuscan Landscape

1980 – Travels to Turkey

1987 – Retrospective exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria, also retrospective Justin O’Brien and Friends at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney.

1989 – Spends several months in Sydney receiving treatment for cancer. Does a number of drawings in the house of fellow artist Margaret Olley

1990s - continues to live in Rome and exhibit regularly in Australia

1992 – Appointed Member of the Order of Australia (A.M.)

1996 – Died in Rome, 17 January.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1947 – David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney

1949 -    Hanover Galleries, London

1950 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1953 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1956 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1959 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1961 – South Yarra Galleries, Melbourne

1965 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1968 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1972 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1974 – South Yarra Galleries, Melbourne; Macquarie Galleries

1976 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1978 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1980 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1982 – Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1983 – PhilipBacon Galleries, Brisbane

1984 – Australian Galleries, Melbourne

1986 – Painters Gallery, Sydney

1987 – Retrospective, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1988 – Australian Galleries, Melbourne

1990 – Australian Galleries, Sydney

1993 – Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney

1995 – Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane

Selected Group Exhibitions

1944 – Joint Exhibition with Jesse Martin, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

1945 – The Sydney Group Exhibition, David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney

1946 – The Sydney Group Exhibition, David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney

1947 – ‘The Merioola Group’, Myer Mural Hall, Melbourne

1947 - ‘The Merioola Group’, David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney

1951 – Unesco Group Exhibition, Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris

1951 – Unesco Group Exhibition, Australia House, London

1952 – ‘Sydney Painting’, Finneys Gallery, Brisbane

1953 – Group Exhibiton for Coronation, New Burlington Galleries, London

1955 – Royal South Australian Society of Artists, Adelaide

1956 – S.S. Orcades Orient Line, Aukland, Honolulu, Vancouver and San Francisco

1957 – ‘Twelve Australian Artists’ New Burlington Galleries, London

1957 – Canberra Art Club Gallery, Canberra

1957 – ‘Sydney Painting’ Victorian Artists Society, Melbourne

1960 – Royal South Australian Society of Artists, Adelaide,

1960 – ‘Contemporary Australian Artists’ Aukland City Art Gallery, Aukland

1960 – Raffins Gallery, Orange

1963 – ‘Antipodean Vision’, Tate Gallery, London

1978 – Quadriennale, Rome

1979 – The Alan Renshaw Bequest, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney

1986 – ‘Modern Australian Paintings’, Charles Nodrum, Melbourne

1986 – ‘Merioola and After’, S.H. Irvin Gallery, Sydney

1987 – ‘Justin O’Brien and Friends’, S.H. Irvin Gallery, Sydney

1995 –‘ The Artists of Hill End’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney


Represented in the Following Collections

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Art Gallery of New South Wales

National Gallery of Victoria

Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery


University of New South Wales

University of Sydney

Rockhampton Art Gallery

SH Ervin Gallery National Trust of Australia (New South Wales)

Newcastle Region Art Gallery

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

City of Hamilton Art Gallery, Victoria

Manly Art Gallery

Newman College Melbourne University

St Francis Xavier Cabrini Hospital

Pinacoteca Vaticano, Modern Art Section, Rome


Taken from Christine France, Justin O’Brien: Image and Icon, 1997 Craftsman House, Sydney