Jon Campbell

Jon Campbell photographed in his Melbourne studio by Tobias Titz, 2020

Jon Campbell was born in Northern Ireland in 1961. Based in Melbourne since the age of three, Campbell has been exhibiting since the mid 1980s. His practice has explored vernacular language and popular culture through painting, drawing, sculpture, artist books, neon light works, installation, large scale public art projects and musical performance. His work celebrates the language of the everyday, and is grounded in the slang that Australians do so uniquely well.

His most recent text based paintings and prints find the artist delving further into his exploration of colour, form and tone, with the role of language moving from aesthetic focal point to subtle painterly device. Snippets of conversation and vernacular words and phrases are transformed using the conventions of formal abstraction to both confuse the original function of the words and to elevate them to a pictorial object.

In 2022 Campbell’s work was featured alongside Nadia Hernández in Speech Patterns: Nadia Hernández and Jon Campbell at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. After a residency at the Monash University Prato Centre in Italy in 2019 he exhibited the resulting series of works Carry on like a pork chop there. In 2018 his work was the subject of BALL YEAH: Selected works 1991-2016 at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and in 2017 he had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney: MCA Collection: Jon Campbell. His work is currently on display in Just Not Australian at the Museum of Sydney, Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria and Australiana: Designing a Nation at Bendigo Art Gallery.

Campbell has been the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Basil Sellers Art Prize at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne in 2012 for his multi-panel painting Dream team, which comprised 22 individual paintings, each identifying a member of his imagined AFL dream team by nickname only.

A major monograph on Jon Campbell’s work was published in 2010, and a new artist’s book, Lettering, was launched in May 2015 at the inaugural Melbourne Art Book Fair. Since then Campbell has produced two large scale artist books with Aaron Beehre of Ilam Press at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Campbell’s work is held in collections including National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, the National Portrait Gallery, Monash University Museum of Art, Artbank, Australia, and the Australian Football League, Melbourne.

Jon Campbell photographed in his Melbourne studio by Tobias Titz, 2020