In 2008 the artist Adam Cullen invited journalist Erik Jensen to stay in his spare room and write his biography.
What followed were four years of intense honesty and a relationship that became increasingly claustrophobic. At one point Cullen shot Jensen, in part to see how committed he was to the book. At another, he threw Jensen from a speeding motorbike. The book contract Cullen used to convince Jensen to stay with him never existed.
Acute Misfortune is a riveting account of the life and death of one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, the man behind the Archibald Prize-winning portrait of David Wenham. Jensen follows Cullen through drug deals and periods of deep self-reflection, onwards into his court appearance for weapons possession and finally his death in 2012 at the age of forty-six. The story is by turns tender and horrifying: a spare tale of art, sex, drugs and childhood, told at close quarters and without judgement.
“A teasing and complex ode to a man who defied attempts to categorise him or to understand him. Jensen’s portrait dares to be both beautiful and ugly – that is, he is both tender and forensic. This is a marvellous, propulsive, intelligent read.” – Christos Tsiolkas