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Lin Onus

Gumurring Garkman - 1994

synthetic polymer paint and ink on illustration board
49.0 x 74.0 cm
EST. $50,000 - $70,000

LOT #21


Purchased directly from the Artist's Estate, Vic
Cooee Art Gallery, NSW
Private Collection, Vic


Queensland Art Gallery, Qld
Benalla Regional Gallery, Vic

Artwork 49 x 74 cm : Frame 80 x 104 cm

Lin Onus played a pivotal role in the emergence of urban Aboriginal art 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. Here frogs, painted with traditional body markings, sit with their heads popping above the surface of the water in a still pond surrounded by gum trees. The work conveys the message that beyond the immediately apparent lies the Dreaming reality, accessible if one is open to its presence.

Lin Onus employed many different innovative and time-saving techniques in the creation of his photo-realist and graphic works. To create many of his original paintings he made stamps made of foam and rubber, and sponges, to paint entire surfaces of stipple and leaves that were later completed using brushes to refine the outlines and highlights. He would paint under-surface features and subsequently use screens (on art boards such as this) to create the basic structure and content of the work and then rework the image or paint over elements to add highlights and areas of light and shade.

This original work was later used as the template for a limited edition fine art print of the same name.