Annette Bezor was born in Adelaide, the daughter of Alma Smith and Keith Bateman. After her parents’ divorce she changed her family name to “Bezor”, a name connected to her mother’s family.
She left school at 14, embarrassed at the way schoolboys commented on her voluptuous appearance. In 1974 she enrolled at the South Australian School of Art, graduating in 1977. This placed her in both the male dominated context of the lecturers at the art school and the heady feminism of the Adelaide art scene of the 1970s. She later said that she spent most of her art school years in pyjamas, working in her bedroom at home, enabled by the encouragement of the feminists.
After exhibiting her work to strong critical approval, she was awarded an Australia Council residency at the Cité international des artes in Paris, which she took up in 1987. Her subject matter changed to appropriating images of women from Classical painting, transforming them into highly sexually charges personas.

On her return to Adelaide she continued her career, with significant commercial and critical success. In 1994 she was commissioned by the Parliament of Victoria to to paint the official portrait of the former Victorian Premier, Joan Kirner.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years before her death on 9 January 2020, and held her final exhibition at Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide, in October 2019.


Joanna Mendelssohn
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