Richard Bell and Shane Cotton
Dredging up the Past is the most recent body of paintings by leading Australian artist Richard Bell and continues his ongoing campaign of focusing attention upon the disempowerment of Indigenous Australian peoples. Employing the visual tropes of canonical painting of the twentieth century, Bell appropriates all that is familiar within the modern Western tradition of art, yet subverts the vernacular to raise crucial issues around unceded Aboriginal sovereignty.
Shane Cotton is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished and celebrated artists. Of Maori (Ngati Rangi, Ngati Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) and Pakeha descent, his idiosyncratic paintings incorporate iconography from Maori and European traditions to reflect upon the unique bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Black Hole is Cotton’s most recent body of work, and demonstrates a shift in the development of his practice, deviating, if only momentarily, from the darkly atmospheric and brooding palette of his works of the last decade. In this body of work, the images of body-less heads are depicted centrally and powerfully within the painted plane, unaccompanied by elaborate backdrops, so that the mark-making appears as even more urgent, rendered more direct through its distillation.