Captain S, after Afghanistan 2012

Ben Quilty (b.1974) and Afghanistan official war artist 20112012

Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial
Canberra, Australia

After spending over three weeks talking to the Australians in Afghanistan, Ben Quilty felt an overwhelming need to tell their stories. He went there in October 2011 as an official war artist, commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to record and interpret the experiences of Australians deployed as part of Operation Slipper.

Quilty asked the soldiers to sit for their portraits naked. He needed to see the body after its protective layers of uniform and body armour had been stripped away. For him, their nakedness expressed both the strength and the frailty of the human condition in time of war.

The pose for this painting was chosen by Captain S and reflects an experience he had while serving in the Helmand province, Afghanistan. Taking cover behind a low mud-brick wall, he spent 18 hours under constant fire from insurgents. A fellow soldier had been hit in the upper leg, and Captain S called in support from an Apache gunship to allow the medivac helicopter to evacuate the wounded soldier.


  • Title: Captain S, after Afghanistan 2012
  • Creator: Ben Quilty (b.1974), Afghanistan official war artist 2011
  • Date Created: 2012
  • Physical Dimensions: 210 x 230.5 cm
  • External Link: Interview with Ben Quilty
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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