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A young artist’s breakthrough exhibition at ANU

Emma Beer is the youngest artist to have a major exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery.

The ANU School of Art and Design alumna’s exhibition, Emma Beer: Zooper Dooper, runs until 10 April.

Beer has established a studio practice and a way of life, which she says are “part method, part love”.

“The primary focus and creative rationale of my work is to explore what painting can be,” says Beer, who identifies as a queer female painter whose practice can be placed somewhere between colour field painting and geometric abstract.   

“My work operates in the productive tension between two distinct histories of Modernist abstraction: hard-edged geometric abstraction, and expressionist gestural painting.”

Beer conceived the exhibition works specifically to suit the light and proportions of the Drill Hall Gallery.

Energised and resonant, shimmering with vitality, these works are alive to all of light’s permutations, responsive to its delicate shifts in tone and hue, shade and shadow. These paintings form sequences of variation and transformation of a simple chromatic and compositional premise, with results that consistently surprise, intrigue and dazzle.

Beer says painting is a set of juxtapositions.

“Nothing is ever straightforward, nothing is without ambiguity, nothing exists in its own right, nothing is without consequence,” she says.

“Some things you see, others you sense or guess at, but every action and every perception has to enrich the image.”

“I work relentlessly in opposition to activate sensations — physical, mental and emotional — that explore every infinite possibility: from happiness, sheer joy and excitement, to pain, sorrow and despair.”

At the same time as this major exhibition, Beer’s work is being acknowledged nationally with recent successes as a finalist for both the 2022 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize and the 2022 Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award. Her work has also recently been included in Canberra’s biennial contour 556; the ANU SOA&D exhibition Painting Amongst Other Things; Abstraction Twenty Eighteen, a satellite exhibition of the National Gallery of Victoria’s The Field Revisited; Young Moderns at Penrith Regional Gallery; and Emerging from Canberra at Watters Gallery in Sydney.

Beer commenced her undergraduate degree in 2006 with a bursary to live on campus at Burgmann College. She graduated in 2009 with First Class Honours, and received the Honours Painting Studio Endowment Scholarship and The Spanish Embassy Torres Scholarship for Young Australian Artists. Continuing her relationship with the ANU School of Art and Design, Beer has been a member of staff in the painting department since 2008.

Emma Beer: Zooper Dooper is curated by Tony Oates and is on show at the Drill Hall Gallery until 10 April. For more information, visit

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.