Marcus Callum is an Australian contemporary painter known for his realist portraits. Fusing traditional oil painting techniques with a contemporary aesthetic, his portraits attempt to convey a sense of psychological insight and are designed to provoke an emotional response. He cites aspects of Buddhist philosophy, meditation and our understanding of the subconscious as influences on his process and subject matter. Characters reflect upon increasing anxieties over impending global crises and while searching for meaning discover that all things are transient. Inspired by the minimalist paintings of Sol LeWitt, recent works juxtapose abstraction with realism, reproduce the past in the present and explore how technology mirrors the organic as humanity merges with the digital.
Trained in Sydney and New York, Marcus received the Dame Joan Sutherland Award in 2014 and a major scholarship to study at the prestigious New York Academy of Art in 2015. He was a finalist in Australia's most well-known art prize, the Archibald Prize, three years in a row (2011-2013) and won Australia's third-richest portrait prize, the Black Swan Portrait Prize (now the Lester Prize) in 2015. Marcus was a finalist in the Art Renewal Center International Salon in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. He appeared as a finalist on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 at the Wallace Collection in London and in the same year won the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize, Australia's premier prize for realistic portraiture.