synthetic polymer paint on canvas
122 x 122 cm
Although this painting is untitled, it fits within the series of works Nickolls created immediately following his inclusion in the Venice Biennale in 1990. It broadly incorporates Nickolls' major theme, the dilemma of attempting to survive while crossing from Dreamtime to Machinetime.
The Aboriginal man with a boomerang is captured inside a white walled box-like room, a construct of the white world. The pointed shapes at the top of the wall look like angled rows of teeth; two sets of shark jaws. There is a white spirit figure falling down the wall. The man's focus is upward towards the spirit of a dove as he seeks to escape the confinement of the room and capture. He is assisted by the serpent, floating freely beside him. The dove spirit is, of course, Christian.
His face in profile looks upward for help or salvation. It is a shape Nickolls used frequently to express anguish - stylistic element he took from Picasso. The jagged stylised dog-like creature with small white people hanging off the teats is a reference to the wolf that brought up Romulus and Remus and a reference to Italy.
The bride is a direct reference to the Bride series by Arthur Boyd; the young â€œwhiteâ€ young here is marrying the Aboriginal man who is stepping on her veil, a gesture that they are connected. There seems no escape for her either. She is holding what looks like a fig leaf; a reference to Adam and Eve.
The white pointy object on the ground in front is â€œpointing the boneâ€ though here the bone is pointing at a small toy like car ï¿½â€œ a mechanical creation. The interrelationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal symbolism is seen on several levels including the painting style, which in this case employs a variation on rarrk (traditional crosshatched clan designs).
Provenance: Gould Galleries, Melbourne, VIC Private Collection, NT Coo-ee Art Gallery, Bondi Beach, NSW