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Dr Dinesh Palipana, OAM by Brett Poulsen

Dr Dinesh Palipana, OAM

Brett Poulsen

About the artwork and sitter

“Portrait of Dinesh” is a portrait of Dr Dinesh Palipana, OAM, the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland, and the second person to graduate medical school with quadriplegia in Australia. He is now a researcher in spinal cord injuries, an emergency doctor and a disability advocate.

This portrait explores Dinesh’s contemplative and gentle nature, evident during his conversations with the artist. It reveals the inner resilience needed to navigate the challenges of daily life as an ER physician, while also living with a physical disability.

The artist and sitter live with similar spinal cord injuries with limited or no functional movement of all four limbs. It was theses parallels that led Brett to approach Dinesh to sit for him.

About the artist

A celebrated CSIRO research scientist and painter, Brett Poulsen likes to jump between left and right brain pursuits in equal measure, and is as passionate about picking up a paintbrush as he is about changing lives. After a lengthy and celebrated career in science, he’s recently become a full time freelance artist.

When painting, Brett draws from his own experience with disability, living with high level quadriplegia.

Brett hopes to create work that conveys the remarkable strength and dignity of the disabled.

“For me, portrait painting appeals when the magic captured by line, colour, and composition produces something "more"."

Behind the scenes

For me, portrait painting appeals when the magic captured by line, colour and composition produces something “more”; when a dash of cadmium orange in the shadows / cerulean blue amongst the highlights gives life to a painting.

My art was very much a hobby until 2018 when the NDIS came into my life with support that allows me to live independently, raise my kids and manage my house. Support by the NDIS allowed me to realise aspirations I had to develop my art.

Dinesh’s portrait developed along fairly traditional lines; drawing from life, photographic references and compositional studies led to the final work. It isn’t the painting I envisaged at the start but rather a work that evolved. It’s a work I’m proud of, a work I feel has a little bit of magic to it.