Danish-born Australian Artist Gitte Backhausen lives on the South Coast of NSW and Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. A multidisciplinary artist, predominantly working in painting, her practice explores, questions and expresses the human experience.
In the intersection between spontaneity and contemplation, Gitte Backhausen’s subconscious abstract landscape paintings emerge. They are an expression of the undiscovered parts of inner life through a visual language strongly connected to nature. The nature-inspired elements are a metaphor for the psychological landscapes of the mind, always observing and questioning the human experience. Backhausen draws parallels between our natural ecosystems and human life – from different species living harmoniously together to the natural decay, destruction and regeneration of life. These are all themes relating to our human experience, including loss, deterioration and the invigoration of renewal. However, perhaps most importantly, these are themes that invite us to contemplate our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world we live in.
With an artistic career spanning two decades, Backhausen exhibits regularly, and her work is frequently selected for art prizes, such as Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Waverley Art Prize and Kangaroo Valley Art Prize and in 2023 winning the inaugural Feel Good Art Prize, judged by Corbett Lyon, leading Australian architect, art collector and founding patron of Lyon Housemuseum.
A workshop facilitator and creative entrepreneur, she holds degrees in graphic design and applied social science and is currently undertaking further professional development at the National Art School, Sydney.
Born and raised in Denmark, Gitte Backhausen started her artistic journey at an early age; drawing, painting, sculpting and writing poetry, as well as attending classes in any creative discipline she could find. Although playing music was a big part of her childhood, visual expression soon became her main interest. In 2002, Backhausen completed a BA in graphic design. Upon completion, she developed an urge to break free from strict guidelines and conventional design. She began exploring a language of free expression, which launched her painting practice.
After the initial years of painting, exhibiting and selling her work in Denmark, Backhausen moved to Australia in 2005, where she continued her artistic career. Completing a BA in applied social science in 2010 and working in mental health further developed her interest in psychology, which has since become an integral part of her artistic practice. Her artistic influences include the abstract expressionists, the dreamlike landscapes of the surrealists as well as contemporary artists predominantly working within the visual language of abstraction. Artists of significance to her practice include Cy Twombly, Elizabeth Cummings and Danish painters Asger Jorn and Per Kirkeby.
For the past twenty years, Backhausen has participated in regular solo and group exhibitions. Since 2016 her work has been selected for an array of art prizes, including Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Waverley Art Prize and Kangaroo Valley Art Prize. In 2018 Backhausen co-founded the award-winning Fern Street Gallery in Gerringong. She runs workshops from her studio on the South Coast of NSW and around Australia. Her practice has expanded over the years to include printmaking, assemblage and works on paper, a reflection of her commitment to developing a deeper understanding and exploration of the complexities of creating.
I am a curious observer of the human experience and by nature reflective. I am always contemplating what life is about and how we navigate it. Multidisciplinary in my practice, including printmaking, assemblage and mixed media, painting has been a consistent form of expression throughout my life. Always working with an abstract approach, over the recent years my paintings have formed a strong connection to nature. While I draw inspiration from the beautiful surroundings I live and work in on the South Coast of NSW Australia, nature is also an impeccable visual reference to my themes around the human experience, questions about life and a great metaphor for the landscape of the curious and contemplative mind.
My artistic influences include the abstract expressionists, in particular Cy Twombly, as well as the dreamy landscapes by the surrealists, having grown up with Salvador Dali’s images all around me. I am also drawn to Danish artists Asger Jorn and Per Kirkeby, along with Australian contemporary artists such as Elisabeth Cummings and the late Tony Tuckson. My interest in psychology contributes to the reflective aspects of my practice and continues to play an important role in the narrative of my art. I am especially intrigued by Systems Theory, Chaos Theory and the notion of happenstance, and I continue to explore psychology as part of my research. Once I am in my studio, however, I let go of the intellectual part of my mind and let the subconscious lead the way. This is how my best work happens.
2023/2024 Gentle Wilderness SIBU Gallery Sydney / Cin Cin, Kiama NSW
2022 Subconscious Landscapes Twenty Twenty Six Gallery, Sydney NSW
2020 Where We Are Fern Street Gallery, Gerringong NSW
2019 InBetween Fern Street Gallery, Gerringong NSW
2019 Presence of Nature Art Bar, Kiama NSW
2018 Secret Landscapes Fern Street Gallery, Gerringong NSW
2018 Nuances of Life Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Nowra NSW
2017 Re:Loved Little Blowhole Art Bar, Kiama NSW
2016 Ever-changing Little Blowhole Art Bar, Kiama NSW
2013 Pop Up Gallery at Challis Studio, Sydney
2011 Sydney Art Expo, Solo stall
2009 Forgotten World Global Gallery, Sydney
2008 Kringlen Galleri, Hune, Denmark
2008 The Intuitive Well Gallery, Sydney
2006 Foer Australien ‘KulturStationen’, Skørping, Denmark
2006 Colourful Stories Cafe Nostimo, Sydney
2006 Life’s Colours Art Moment Gallery, Sydney
2005 Artville Artshow Copenhagen, Denmark
2004 Variationer at ‘KulturStationen’s Galleri’ Skørping, Denmark
2003 Udtryk til Indtryk ‘Kvarterhuset’ Copenhagen, Denmark
Selected Group Exhibitions
2024 Beauty Runs the Gauntlet Bondi Pavillion Gallery
2021 Between Earth and Sky Duo Exhibition with Lissa de Sailles, FSG
2020 Colour & Life Duo Exhibition Fern Street Gallery
2020 Transforming, King & Ayres, Wollongong
2019 Worlds of Wonder Fern Street Gallery
2019 Friends of Hazelhurst Hazelhurst Regional Gallery NSW
2019 Locals on Board Wollongong Art Gallery
2019 Water Fern Street Gallery, Gerringong NSW
2019 Girt by Sea, Rochfort Gallery, Sydney NSW
2019 Illawarra Local, Artsite Gallery, Sydney NSW
2019 Summertime, Fern Street Gallery, NSW
2019 Locals on Board, Wollongong Art Gallery, NSW
2018 Salon Exhibition alongside ‘Whimsy’ Exhibition, Rochfort Gallery, Sydney NSW
2018 Pigments at Play, Rochfort Gallery, Sydney NSW
2018 Everything in Between, Clifton School of Arts
2016 Kiama Art Society 38th Annual Exhibition
2016 Fresh Batch Platform72 Art Gallery, Sydney.
2009 Korea-Australia Exchange Group Exhibition by Seoul Art Centre,
Gongpyeong Gallery and Cross Bay Gallery, hosted by Global Gallery, Sydney
2009 Two Danish Artists, Helen Stephens Gallery, Sydney
2007 Group Exhibition with Global artists, Global Gallery, Sydney
2006 New Breed Global Gallery, Sydney
2023 NAS LIBRARY Artists’ Book Award Finalist
2023 Feel Good Art Prize. WINNER
2023 Salon des Refuses Lethbridge 20000 Small Scale Art Award
2023 Salon des Refuses Lethbridge Landscape Prize
2021 Fisher’s Ghost Art Award Finalist
2021 Lethbridge Small Scale Art Award Finalist
2020 & 2018 Kangaroo Vallery Art Prize Finalist
2018 Meroogal Womens Art Prize Finalist
2018 Northern Beaches Art Prize Finalist
2017 Northern Beaches Art Prize Finalist
2016 Blacktown City Art Prize Finalist
2016 Warringah Art Prize Finalist
2016 Waverley Art Prize Finalist
2020 Sustaining your Painting Practice w. Tonee Messiah, National Art School
2020 Abstract Drawing & Painting w. Yvonne Langshaw
2020 Experimental Printmaking w. Kirtika Kain, National Art School Sydney
2019 Plen Air Painting w. Jo Bertini
2018 Abstract Painting w. Catherine Cassidy
2018 Colour Workshop w. Carmel Byrne
2017 Hand Made Brushes and Mark Making w. Lorna Crane
2017 Painting Master class w. Roger Crawford, National Art School Sydney
2016 Mentoring with Pam Cowper
2015 Mixed media with Pam Cowper, Waverly Art School, Sydney
2014 Mixed Media with Joanne Mulcahy-Zubani, Sydney
2007-2010 Bachelor of Applied Social Science, Australian College of Applied Psychology, Sydney.
2004 Painting residency, Ærø, Denmark
1999-2002 Bachelor in Graphic Design, Seminariet for Formgivning, Denmark
1998 Drawing, design and visual communication, The School of Visual Arts, Copenhagen Denmark
1996-1998 Graphic Design and Visual communication Copenhagen Technical College, Denmark
1994-97 Various courses in Drawing, painting, sculpture and ceramics, Denmark
2018 Private Collection, Gerringong NSW
2017 Private Collection, Darlinghurst, Sydney
2016 Private Collection, Lilyfield, Sydney
2008 Corporate research company, Sydney CBD
2008 Private Collection, Vaucluse, Sydney
2006 Private Collection, Bondi, Sydney
2005 Private Collection, Denmark.
Other Professional Art Activities
Co-founder and Director, Fern Street Gallery, Gerringong 2018 – 2020.
Independent Judge – Shoalhaven Regional Gallery Exhibition Selection Committee 2020
Artist Mentoring – supporting artist who feel stuck in their practice, to move through into new artistic territories with confidence. 2022 – ongoing.
Academic Board Member National Art School – BFA representative 2023 – 2026
Get out of your Mind and Into your Art – Addressing creative block & freeing up through abstraction
Mixed Media – Creating texture in paintings and exploring new material combinations
Experimental Works on Paper – Collagraph Print & mixed media
Assemblage Art – Creating wall-hanging art from old, found and recycled objects.
Venues include: Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Kiama Art Workshops, Sydney Art Space, The Tinkerage, Fern Street Gallery Gerringong and Kiama Art Society as well as in my own studio.