Bernard Ollis (1951) is an Australian artist and painter who lives and works in Sydney and Paris. Ollis is the former Director of the National Art School, Sydney.
Ollis is a narrative painter, but each picture is nothing more than a fragment. He will begin with a simple setting such as a bedroom, a street, or a patio, and gradually add the dramatis personae and details. A work develops its own momentum, with objects, people or animals multiplying as if by spontaneous generation. While Ollis may begin with a specific idea, by the time the painting is finished it has usually metamorphosed into something quite different.
Born in Bath, England, Ollis is a graduate of Cardiff School of Art & Design, Wales and received his Master of Art (Painting) from the Royal College of Art. Ollis arrived in Australia in 1976 and lectured at the University of the Northern Territory where he became head of his department, and La Trobe University, Victoria where he became Head of Fine Art. In 1996, Ollis was appointed Head of Painting at the National Art School, Sydney. He became Director there in late 1997, a position he held for 10 years.
Ollis has held over 60 solo exhibitions since 1972 in Australia, New Zealand, and London, and has participated in group exhibitions throughout Australia, Europe, and Asia. Ollis undertook a residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris in 1975 and in 2008 he underwent a Residency as the guest of the Australian Ambassador to Egypt, Dr Bob Bowker. Subsequent residencies include the Obracadobra artist residency in Oaxaca City, Mexico, with Mawson’s Huts Foundation to Antarctica in 2014, and an international artist residency at Funxing-Ginger Art Space, Zhouzhuang, Jiangsu, China in 2015.
Ollis received the 1976 John Minton International Painting Prize, the 1977 Sir Frederick Richards’ Travelling Scholarship (UK), an Australia Council Visual Arts Board Grant (1984), and the Conrad Jupiters Award in 2005 (Gold Coast City Art Gallery QLD).
Ollis’s work is currently held in public collections in Australia and the United Kingdom, including the Royal College of Art London, National Gallery of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra, and the State Galleries of Queensland, Victoria and Northern Territory. His partner is artist Wendy Sharpe.