MEET THE ARTIST: RICHARD BELL
at the Art Museum: free
Aboriginal artist Richard Bell is an impassioned political activist and one of Australia’s leading artists. His multi-media artwork is a protest against the treatment of the native Australian aboriginal people and the exploitation of their traditional art.
A self-taught artist, Bell works in a wide range of media, including painting, performance, and video and freely borrows styles and motifs from other artists, periods, and cultures. His works reference the dot matrixes and expressionist drips of Aboriginal desert painting, the Pop Art styles of Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein, and the drip painting of Jackson Pollock. He often incorporates text to create powerful political and social commentary. Bell’s interest in appropriation sums up many of the problems of Australian identities, asking viewers to consider ideas of ownership in images and national politics.
Bell believes Aboriginal art has become a commodity exploited and controlled by non-indigenous people. This is highlighted in his "Theorems", an ongoing series of paintings that incorporate contentious slogans against patterned and textured images
In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Art critic Eleanor Heartney observes that Bell “wields his art like a scalpel, using it to get under the skin of contemporary Australian culture in order to scrape away the accumulated contagions of history. In the process, he provides a remarkably effective model for thinking about larger issues as well. He reminds us that none of us can escape the paradoxes of identity and authenticity in a post-colonial world.”
Richard Bell's visit is made possible by an artist’s stipend from the Australia Council for the Arts, African American Forum, inc., The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, UK College of Fine Arts: Art Department and UK Community Engagement.
Richard Bell: Uz vs. Them is organized by the American Federation of Arts and supported by the Queensland Government, Australia, through Trade and Investment Queensland’s Queensland Indigenous Arts Marketing and Export Agency (QIAMEA). Additional support has come from the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts and the Embassy of Australia, Washington, D.C.
The exhibition is made possible at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky by The Bluegrass Complex of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC.
The American Federation of Arts (AFA) is a nonprofit institution that organizes art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishes exhibition catalogues, and develops education programs.
Image: portrait of Richard Bell in his exhibition, RICHARD BELL: Uz vs. Them