Luke Cornish is an Australian artist creating unique, powerful images from handmade stencils. His rise within the contemporary art world has been meteoric, becoming the first artist to be nominated for the Archibald Prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils. A former blue-collar worker from Canberra, Cornish's apathy and boredom during his mid-twenties encouraged him to start experimenting with stanley knives and spraypaint cans. Nearly ten years later, Cornish has literally carved his name into the public's mind.

Using up to 85 layers of carefully hand-cut acetate, he sprays layer upon layer of aerosol paint until his images bear a striking photographic resemblance: this is a new form of hyper-realism that is unlike what has been seen before. Formally known as E.L.K, he uses the tools of a street artist to create decadent, detailed works that envelop the viewer. There is an honesty to Cornish's work, slicing back the layers and reconstructing his muses with astonishing deftness. The emotions that permeate through the eyes of his portraits have great depth, the shadows created by the stencils highlighting their anguish. His subjects all seem to share the same hardship and determination that Cornish himself has experienced, lending to a sense of dire reality in the unreality of his images.

After a few small exhibitions across Australia, Cornish's abilities began to attract public attention. Over the past five years he has been granted many awards, including being granted the Churchill fellowship in 2013, being selected as a finalist in the Metro Art Prize of 2011, winning the Australian Stencil Art prize in 2010, the most popular stencil at Melbourne Stencil Festival in 2008, and creating a shortlisted Tropfest film on the making of his Archibald portrait. And finally, the Archibald itself. This represents a shift in the contemporary art world, as Cornish's controversial nomination has proven that stencilling is a viable fine art form that is now competing with more traditional methods.

Cornish's portrait of controversial Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire achieved a new auction record for a work by an Australian street artist selling for AU$34,160 during the Bonhams Australia Important Australian Art auction in late 2013.

Now living and working in Sydney, he has continued to refine his craft, striving to push the boundaries of his medium and creating picture-perfect stencils. Cornish has nuzzled his way into the fine art world, showing that even if the pen is mightier than the sword, the scalpel might win out overall.

 



Exhibition History


AWARDS and COLLECTIONS
2014- Bond University Collection, QLD
2014- Corrigan Collection 
2013- Churchill Fellowship, Awardee
2013- National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (acquisition)
2013- Sulman prize, Finalist
2012- Moran Portrait prize, semi-finalist
2012- Archibald prize, Finalist
2012- Tropfest, shortlisted
2011- Metro Art Prize, Finalist
2010- Australian Stencil Art Prize, Winner
2009- Ballarat Gallery of Modern Art (acquisition)
2009- Australian Stencil art prize, Runner up
2008- Melbourne Stencil Festival, Peoples choice

SOLO SHOWS
2014- Louder than words, Stolen Space, London
2014- Clusterfuck, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
2014- Sex & Death, Art Equity, Sydney
2013- Before Afghanistan, Art Equity, Sydney
2012- Not with it..., Metro Gallery, Melbourne
2011- Look what you made me do...., Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne
2011- This is why we can't have nice things..., Oh really Gallery, Newtown, Sydney
2010- How you like me now Bitch?, Front Gallery, Canberra
                                                                               
GROUP SHOWS
2014- RightNow, Liechardt, Sydney
2014- ADIDAS Stan Smith show, Melbourne
2013- Sulman prize, Art Gallery of NSW 
2012- A cut above 2, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide
2012- Archibald prize, Art Gallery of NSW
2012- E.L.K x ADNATE "killing it", Molecule gallery, Melbourne
2012- Project 5, Sydney
2012- Melbournes burning, Paradise hills, Melbourne
2012- Young guns, Linton and kay, Perth
2012- Climate change, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
2011- Surface Tension, Ambush Gallery, Sydney
2011- All stars show,  Espionage gallery, Adelaide
2011- Things to come, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
2011- Facelook portrait show, Dark horse experiment, Melbourne
2011- The new feild, Dark horse experiment, Melbourne
2011- Metro art award, exhibition of finalists, Melbourne
2011- A cut above, Espionage gallery, Adelaide
2011- Sidewayz Art Exhibition, Sydney
2011- up close (colour by numbers), sydney
2011- Expo for Mattia, Naples, Italy
2011- up the bend, Rancho Notorious, Melbourne
2011- Paste up exhibition (ragad art kalliatsis), Hungary
2010- Space Invadas, National Gallery of Australia (merchandise in Giftshop)
2010- Don't push mong, China heights, Surry hills, Sydney
2010- Australian Stencil art Prize, Oh Really gallery, Newtown, Sydney
2010- Don't push mong, Canberra
2010- Pop rocks, Urban Uprising gallery, Sydney
2010- Sweet streets, 1000 pound bend, melbourne
2010- Friends with knives, crewest gallery, Los Angeles
2010- Urban art 10A, BSG, Melbourne
2009- Old Skoolin, Art whino, Washington/Los Angeles
2009- Get Trucked, per square metre, Melbourne
2009- Melbourne Stencil Festival, Melbourne
2009- YourKidCantDoThis, Sydney Show, North Bondi
2009- Urban Art Agenda #3, Ballarat, Melbourne and Brisbane Powerhouse
2009- September, Dirty Pilot Group show, LA, USA
2009- Spin that thing, vinyl show, Famous when dead Gallery, Melbourne
2009- In2change Exhibition, Belconnen Community Centre
2009- YourKidCantDoThis, Melbourne Show
2009- YourKidCantDoThis' Canberra Show, Legislative assembly
2009- "Stencil" Art Whino Group show, National Harbour, MD, USA
2009- Australian Stencil Art prize, Exhibition of finalists (runner up)
2008- Spray 1387, Tehran, Iran
2008- Melbourne Stencil Festival
2008- Cacophony Group show, Manuka
2007- Cacophony Group show, The Front Gallery
2007- M16 Group show, M16, Canberra
                                                                                                           
Publications
2012- Stencil Repubic (Olly Walker, Laurence King publishing)
2010- Art monthly Australia (cover)
2008- Art monthly Australia