Turbo Brown – From Homeless To Art World Rising Star

We have a new exhibition opening this month in Gallery 2 featuring the works of Turbo Brown. Turbo has made a bit of a name for himself painting these very direct images of birds and animals from the Australian bush.

Born in 1967, Trevor 'Turbo' Brown is a Latje Latje man who grew up in Mildura in Victoria. As a youngster he had a hard life. He was born with an intellectual disability and was abandoned by his own family when he was quite small. He seems to have more or less brought himself up on the banks of the Murray River.

As he headed into his teenage years Turbo was adopted by an older family, Uncle Herb Batten and his wife, Aunty Bunta. They subsequently took Turbo with them when they moved to Melbourne. At this point his life improved from those difficult early days. He went to painting classes with his adopted parents and found he had a real knack for storytelling. As well as being an artist Turbo trained in boxing and became a “keen rapper”. His nickname Turbo comes from the 1984 breakdance movie Breakin’.

Turbo paints the mood of the animal world. He says it reminds him of the time when he was homeless and living out on the riverbanks and animals were his only friends.

In this exhibition you’ll see these very alive paintings of kookaburras calling out first thing in the morning, and birds in flight, and rows of galahs on fence-lines. There are all sorts of animals in his paintings and he uses imaginative freelance too. You’ll see subjects like whales and numbats. In one painting there's a wall of echidnas stomping across the country.

He has a fantastic imaginative but probably more emotional kind of release in the paintings. Often the sun's bursting out and the birds are singing or winging through the sky. You can see that he's creating a world that was pretty important. It got him out of his own more difficult times and into the natural world, which he preferred to be in.

He paints with a real directness in a naive style. You can see the brush strokes, he puts big layers of colours on. He's got flying parrots with fantastic colours of reds and greens as they fly across the sky or are perched in the trees. People can respond very quickly to the type of artwork he does.

Turbo’s work has been widely exhibited since 2001 and he has had over ten solo exhibitions. A number of his paintings are included in important collections such as the National Gallery of Australia as well as the National Gallery of Victoria.

This is fresh exciting work and I hope you get a chance to see this exhibition when it opens on 19 February.

View: Turbo Brown Exhibition