Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne Vic
Private Collection, Madrid Spain
Lawson~Menzies , Aboriginal Fine Art, May, 2007
Private Collection, Qld
Lin Onus played a pivotal role in renegotiating the history of colonial and Aboriginal Australia through his practice as an artist and advocate. A Yorta Yorta man from Cumeraganga on the Murray River, he grew up in urban Melbourne strongly influenced by the work of realist painters including Albert Namatjira and began his own career as a watercolorist and photorealist. Onus's work evolved after his 'adoption' by Arnhem Land Elders in the mid 1980s conferred upon him the right to use certain traditional stories and designs. This enabled him to develop a distinctive visual language. Through a fusion of Western and Aboriginal systems of organising space, vision and design he sought to portray landscape as a carrier of myth, history, and ideology.
In this, and other works on a similar theme, Onus depicted the Dreaming reality encoded in the landscape, seen and comprehended only by those who have the knowledge of, and willingness to embrace an alternate vision and history. Lin Onus was a cultural provocateur who believed that there was no distinction between the political and the beautiful. His contribution changed forever the perceptions about the nature of Aboriginal art and in the inadequate terminology of our times put urban art, as it is popularly known, onto the cultural map in Australia.
Fish and Storm Clouds, shows the artist's spiritual homeland, the Bahmah Forest, reflected on the surface of a waterhole while haunting, almost translucent 'indigenised' fish swim beneath reflections of the tall spindly gum trees alongside the river and the white cumulus clouds overhead. These are exquisitely depicted within the still surface of the stream evoking a magical Dreamtime otherworldly and mystical space of Aboriginal myth and legend, where beyond the immediately apparent there resides other powerful stories and dimensions of being.