Andrew Sibley - Biography

Born in 1933 in Kent, England, Andrew Sibley migrated to outback Queensland with his family in 1948. After leaving the family property he spent a short time in Papua New Guinea before returning to Brisbane in the late 1950’s. In the early 1960’s Sibley was a part of the ‘Brisbane School’ with Jon Molvig, Roy Churcher and, further away on Bribie Island, Ian Fairweather. Sibley found early success winning prestigious prizes and was invited to exhibit at the Whitechapel Galley in London in 1962 and the Paris Biennale in 1963. In the mid-late 1960’s Sibley was a part of the Rudy Komon gallery stable in Sydney that included many of the most important Australian artists of the time and where he established life long connections with these fellow artists.

After moving to Melbourne in the late 1960’s Sibley was appointed a lecturer at RMIT – a position he held from 1967 – 1987 – the impact of his teaching and disciplined methods imparted on generations of Melbourne based artists. Later Sibley went on to be a senior painting lecturer at Monash University from 1990-1999.

In his own career, the 1970’s was a decade of inspiration and experimentation spending time in Europe firstly at a residency in West Berlin in 1972 where he drew influence from artists such as Max Beckman, Jean Dubuffet, Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee and the like, as well as travelling back and forth to London for new exhibitions of his contemporaries such as Francis Bacon. The influence of this early part of the 1970’s were profound on Sibley and his style developed to be more avante-garde as he explored the ‘human condition’. Sibley began to experiment with new materials and created many works in which his depictions of the human figure, or figures, were encased in perspex boxes “trapped like petals between pages, or moths between glass plates.”

In the 1980’s Sibley again evolved as an artist and in this period achieved major success with his Circus Series that continued his exploration of the vices and virtues of humankind. It was at this time that Sibley was regularly exhibited in Europe and the United States, while in Australia Sibley exhibited prolifically Nationwide. In addition to his commercial success Sibley’s work was acquired by the vast majority of museum collections throughout Australia.

In the 1990’s and 2000’s the mood of Sibley’s work shifted to less confrontational imagery as he came to grips with the angst and complication of his youth. ‘Sibley’s people’, the same cast of characters that had travelled with him in his early years appear to transition through life with him, moreover the works from this era are profoundly more joyous as he entered a more content part of his life.

In recent years Sibley has had success in the International Contemporary Art market with his work being acquired by significant Private Collectors from Asia, Europe and the United States. Sibley’s work was shown at Art Stage Singapore 2015 & a Solo exhibition in Berlin in 2017, in addition to the presentations in Australia that included numerous Solo Exhibitions and major highlights such as his work being shown at the Melbourne Art Fair 2014, 2020 (OVR), 2022; Sydney Contemporary 2018, 2019, 2020 (OVR), 2021 (OVR); & Spring 1883 in 2021 & 2023.

Sibley was also a Senior Lecturer at RMIT University from 1967-1987 and Head of Painting at Monash University from 1990-1999. His mark and influence on Australian art, and the artists under his tutelage, is indelible.