The interruption

Born Melbourne, Australia 1956


Since his student days at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and early experiences of London in late 1978, Jon Cattapan’s practice has responded to local subcultures and events experienced in urban environments, to offer a haptic expression of urban architecture and life. Stylistically, his imagery has moved between figurative representation and expressive abstraction.

From the mid-1980s Cattapan has focused on urban spaces and newsworthy events, with a particular interest in nightscapes: ‘From about 1986 I became increasingly interested in nocturnal light and how to represent it. My cities are always places that occupy that nocturnal space. I see the quality of those blue-green works of mine as being very fugitive. The colouration is meant to evoke a kind of drifting.’1

Cattapan has had a number of residencies including the Greene Street Studio, New York and Columbus University, Ohio (1989), Baroda, India (1996), Seoul (1997), Bundanon, New South Wales (2002), and the Venice Printmaking Studio, Italy (2007).

Significant solo exhibitions for the artist include Jon Cattapan: The City Submerged, Wollongong City Art Gallery (1999 and touring), and The drowned world: Jon Cattapan works and collaborations at the Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne (2006). He was also represented in the major survey exhibitions Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales (1993), and The First Asia–Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery (1993).


1 Jon Cattapan, in Christine Dauber, ‘An interview with Jon Cattapan’, 2004, as reproduced in Chris McAuliffe Jon Cattapan: Possible histories, Melbourne University Publishing, Melbourne, 2008, p. 109.