This catalogue presents the exhibition by acclaimed Brisbane-based artist Richard Bell who created new works for Gertrude Contemporary in 2008. Bell’s provocative paintings and videos have been imbued with a caustic wit that hits directly at the centre of the complex relationship between Aboriginal art and the Western art world.
In his work Bell, has offered a critical context for the discussion of a range of issues, including the appropriation of indigenous ideas and aesthetics, power relations within the art world, as well as feeding into a wider discussion about the legitimacy and legality of European colonisation.
In 2003, Richard Bell was the recipient of the 20th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. For this award Bell created a text work entitled Scientia E Metaphysica (Bells Theorem), that read “Aboriginal Art. Its a white thing”. This work, along with the t-shirt he wore to the awards which stated “white girls can’t hump”, caused a furor that was fuelled by the publication of Bell’s Theorem of Aboriginal art: it’s a white thing. This text can be seen as a manifesto outlining Bell’s uncompromising stance on the assimilation/exploitation of indigenous art in the canon of western art.
For Window Shopping at 200 Gertrude Street, Bell created three new works. These works addressed similar concerns relating to the commodification of indigeneity in the western art market and drew attention to frustrations and grievances brought about through the European colonisation of Australia.
Bell, who belongs to the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang peoples, has had a distinguished career spanning the past twenty years. During this time Bell has become an internationally recognised artist. Richard Bell is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane
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