Born Bendigo, Victoria, Australia 1908, died Melbourne 1987
Roger Kemp’s interests lay in the human experience of spirituality and he was aligned with abstractionists concerned with transcendental and universal themes, including Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and Australians Leonard French and Frank Hinder.
He developed a set of motifs and symbols to denote a universal language, a visual vocabulary to transcend everyday consciousness in the communication of ideas and feelings.
Although mainly self-taught, Kemp attended the National Gallery School and Melbourne Technical College during the 1930s. His profile increased after winning the McCaughey Prize (1961) and the Blake Prize for Religious Art (1968 and 1970). In 1978 his work was exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria, the University of Melbourne Gallery and Monash University Gallery. Almost a decade later the National Gallery of Victoria held another survey of his work titled Sacred Images (1986), and the Art Gallery of New South Wales toured Roger Kemp: etchings (1990–91). He has been represented in several important survey shows including The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788–1988, Art Gallery of South Australia and touring all state galleries (1988–89), and Classical modernism, the George Bell Circle, National Gallery of Victoria (1992).
Kemp’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries, several regional galleries and university collections, Parliament House, Canberra and Artbank.