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Richard Bell, 2009

Mike Chavez

synthetic polymer paint, screenprint and spray paint on canvas (support: 168.0 cm x 137.0 cm)

Richard Bell (b. 1953), an artist of Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi) and Anglo-Celtic heritage, has described himself as an 'inactivist who kicked the habit'. Self-taught, Bell exhibited in the first of many group and solo shows at the beginning of the 1990s. Often incorporating text, alluding to contemporary American and Australian art as well as Indigenous iconography, his works are aggressively propagandist, wantonly offensive, witty and often funny. Delusional grandeur (2002) reads, in part:

'"I wasn'tthereitwasn'tmeididn'tdoitwhatcanidoIAMNOTSORRY" ' Bell won the 2003 Telstra NATSIA award for his Scientia E Metaphysica (Bell's Theorem), featuring a phrase on which he has often riffed, 'Aboriginal Art: It's a White Thing'. On that occasion the artist courted, and won, controversy by wearing a t-shirt disparaging the sexual performance of Anglo-Saxon women. His video productions include uz vs them 2006 and Broken English 2009. Included in Australian Perspecta (1993) and (prominently) in Culture Warriors (2008), the self-proclaimed 'gangsta rapper of Australian art' is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and several state galleries.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Artist 2011
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2011.3

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Mike Chavez (age 40 in 2009)

Richard Bell (age 56 in 2009)

Subject professions


Visual arts and crafts

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