Richard Bell, Embassy installed at PICA in 2014.
Richard Bell, Embassy installed at PICA in 2014. Toni Wilkinson

Aboriginal artist, political activist wins $50K art award

AN ARTIST and political activist who grew up on a farm outside Rockhampton is the latest to be honoured with the $50,000 Gold Award for contemporary art.

Richard Bell was announced as the winner of one of Australia's richest art prizes at a Rockhampton Art Gallery ceremony overnight.

The winning work, Untitled 2018, is acrylic and sand on canvas, described as an exploration of "complex artistic and political problems of Western, colonial and Indigenous art production and its reception".

Judge Simon Elliott, from the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, said there was a depth to the work which appealed to him during the juding process.

 

Artist and activist Richard Bell was announced as the 2018 Gold Award winner at the Rockhampton Art Gallery.
Artist and activist Richard Bell was announced as the 2018 Gold Award winner at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. Contributed

"His almost comic book, empty designer-neat bedroom displays paintings on the wall that provoke ideas about 'place' - who belongs and who should go," he said.

"An artist with a national profile and of Indigenous heritage, Bell cleverly mimics the styles of two great American artists - Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock - who are so familiar to Australians to query the place of Indigenous art and its celebration in this country.

"I hope Richard Bell's Untitled will add another dimension to the rich Australian artists' painting collection of the Rockhampton Art Gallery."

 

Artist and activist Richard Bell was announced as the 2018 Gold Award winner at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. Pictured with Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow and Gold Award judge Simon Elliott.
Artist and activist Richard Bell was announced as the 2018 Gold Award winner at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. Pictured with Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow and Gold Award judge Simon Elliott. Contributed

Rockhampton Region councillor Rose Swadling congratulated Mr Bell and the other eight artists who entered the Gold Awards.

"It is wonderful to hear that an artist with such a strong connection to our Region has been judged as the winner of the Gold Award 2018," she said.

"The Gold Award was made possible through a bequest from the estate of Rockhampton philanthropist Moya Gold, and I feel certain that she would have been very pleased to see how her bequest continues to enhance not only Rockhampton Art Gallery's collection but also to contribute Australia's national visual arts scene.

"I encourage the people of the Region to visit Rockhampton Art Gallery to see for themselves the calibre of the works entered."

The Gold Award 2018 will be on display at the Rockhampton Art Gallery from 18 August to 7 October. Entry is free.


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