2014/0005 Colour Theory

Colour Theory

Artist

Richard BELL
Aboriginal/Indigenous
Birth:
1953
 in
Charleville, Queensland

Artwork

Title
Colour Theory
Date
2012
Medium/Material
acrylic on linen
Dimensions
183.0 x 244.0cm (Height x Width x Depth)
Credit line
Purchased through the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation: TomorrowFund, 2014
State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession Number
2014/0005
Currently not on display

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Extended Label

Richard Bell is troubled by the way in which Australian society, including the Western contemporary art world, views, engages with and treats Indigenous people and artists. The title of this painting refers both to colour theory in art and colour theory as it applied to Indigenous people in Australia after the establishment of the 1905 Aborigines Act, where the individual’s gradient of skin colour ultimately determined the course of an Aboriginal person’s life and opportunities. Although now considered inappropriate, this language is still used by some today.The patterns of lines and circles on the work reference not only the mathematical approach to painting that the Pop artists of the 50s and 60s used, but the traditional Indigenous art style common to early Indigenous works of art. The recent artist documentary series Colour Theory on NITV (National Indigenous Television) is named after this work.

Curatorial insightThe title of this work refers both to colour theory in art and colour theory as it applied to Indigenous people in Australia after the establishment of the 1905 Aborigines Act, where the individual’s gradient of skin colour ultimately determined the course of a person’s life and opportunities. The patterns of lines and circles on the work reference not only the mathematical approach to painting that the Pop artists of the 1950s and 60s utilised, but the traditional Indigenous art ‘style’ common to early Indigenous works of art. The didactic approach to Indigenous symbolism too often focused upon by contemporary art critics is played upon with the tongue-in-cheek depiction of traditional motif. (AGWA, 2014)

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