09 September–14 October 200609 Sep–14 Oct 2006
Brisbane aboriginal artist Richard Bell’s work develops out of protest politics, responding to a history of oppression and discrimination. While he challenges non-aboriginal artists who appropriate aboriginal imagery, he is an appropriation artist himself, borrowing from artists like Imants Tillers and Emily Kngwarreye to score his points. His recent works draw extensively on the comics-appropriating pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, who made dot canvasses before Papunya. Bell’s work is a series of timely provocations: he critiques the appropriators of aboriginal art, he challenges the perceived divide between traditional and modern aboriginal art, and he inverts black/white stereotypes. He is famous for Bell’s Theorem: ‘Aboriginal Art—it’s a white thing’. After winning the 2003 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, he generated a national controversy by collecting his award in a T-shirt with the slogan ‘White Girls Can’t Hump’. Positivity surveys Bell’s agit-pop work from the early 1990s to now.