It All Started from Black - in Memory of Lin Onus
To be opened by: Tiriki Onus
Son of Lin Onus
Opening 6:30pm - 8:30pm: Thursday 8 May
Exhibition continues until Saturday 7 June 2208
Works presented at this exhibition include:
Lin Onus Prints - Published by P.J.P.A.
Collaboration works by Lin Onus and Shaike I am Art Snir - (Some signed by both whilst some are not signed at all)
Prints that Lin Onus started to work on and were finished by Tiriki Onus and Shaike I am Art Snir - (Walawala garkman and Stingray and Pebbles). Signed by Tiriki Onus.
Prints commissioned by the Lin Onus Estate - (based on Lin Onus’ original image an printed by Shaike I am Art Snire. Signed by Tiriki Onus.
Iris Giclee on Arches
Giclee (pronounced Zhee-Clay) is a French phrase originally coined in the 17th Century meaning "to squirt or spurt." It refers to a printing technique brought about by a machine called the Iris. In many circles the two words are used synonymously to refer to this printing process. The process requires that the substrate, such as paper or canvas, is carefully attached to a spinning drum while infinitely small droplets of archival inks are sprayed at a very high speed. This renders an amazingly smooth and consistent image - a Museum Quality Fine Art Reproduction.
The Iris process allows the artist to have substantial control over the range of color and the quality of the print.
Digital archival reproduction. Pigment ink on fibre mouldmade
Lin Onus was a largely self-taught artist. Particularly important in his development was his visits to Garmedi (Arnhem Land) starting in 1986. Jack Wunuwun, the Yolngu artist, introduced him into the Murrungun-Djinang clan and gave him permission to use some of traditional images in his paintings. His cultural education on the Aboriginal side was also provided by visits to Cummeragunja with his father, and stories told by his uncle Aaron Briggs, known as 'the old man of the forest' who gave him his Koori name - Burrinja, meaning 'star'. They would sit on the banks of the Murray River within view of the Barmah Forest, Lin's spiritual home, the subject of many of his later paintings and his final resting place. Lin's father had been of the Yorta Yorta people from the Barmah Forest country, and Lin also used images from this area in his paintings. The images in his works include haunting photorealist portrayals of the Barmah red gum forests of his father's ancestral country, and the use of rarrk cross-hatching-based based painting style that he learned (and was given permission to use when in Arnhemland). His painting Barmah Forest won Canberra's national Aboriginal Heritage Award in 1994. In Sydney Onus' iconic Fruit Bats at the Art Gallery of New South Wales deploys a commercial Hills Hoist clothesline, an object of nigh-on sacred significance in the suburban dreaming of white Australia to service as a tree to a colony of magnificently coloured, fibreglass bats on whose backs are traced the rarrk cross-hatching style.
In conjunction with this exhibition Coo-ee Gallery will also be showing the SBS Television film, Lin Onus - Bridge Between Cultures, Produced and directed by Mika Nishimura in 1998. A documentary based on an extensive interview with the artist, filmed the year before he died. Throughout the program, Lin talks about his struggle with his identity and how he overcame that struggle as he worked with his art. His works raise many serious issues, but they are also full of his sense of humour. 'He was one of the key people in bringing about a change in perception of what had been disparagingly referred to as urban Aboriginal art', says Lin's close friend and Aboriginal activist, Gary Foley.
Apart from achieving national prominence as a contemporary Australian artist - Lin Onus is represented in over 50 major public, private and corporate collections - he established an international profile through seminal exhibitions such as Tagari Lia: My Family - Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Australia (Glasgow 1990), and the landmark exhibition Aratjara: Art of the First Australian's which toured three continents from 1993. He has also been shown in Madrid, Montpellier, Kyoto, New York, Washington and Seoul.
Being self-taught afforded him what his primary agent Gabrielle Pizzi calls "a wonderful freedom" to develop. His exhibition Urban Dingo: The Art of Lin Onus was showcased at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane and the Melbourne Museum. Lin Onus died prematurely at the age of 47 in 1996.
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