Relinking - Richard Bell
Relinking Richard Bell
Leading artist Richard Bell (1953) lives and works in Brisbane, Australia, and uses his art as a political vehicle. He challenges the Western and white construct of the art world in a provocative way. Growing out of a generation of Aboriginal activists, he uses his work to advocate for the emancipation of all First Nations communities. The exhibition Relinking: Richard Bell is Bell's first solo exhibition in Europe. Central to it are his statement paintings and his two essays on the position of Aboriginal Art and artists in the art world.
In 2002, Bell published the critical essay Bell's Theorem, which addresses the colonial structures of the art world and argues for the right of self-determination of Aboriginal artists within it. This theoretical framework shapes the basis for a series of paintings, including works with the texts Aboriginal Art, It's a White Thing and Western Art Does Not Exist. Bell's paintings offer a sobering reflection on the realities of the inner-workings of the art world: white experts determine the criteria for what counts as 'Aboriginal Art'. Especially for this exhibition, the Van Abbemuseum is publishing a new essay by the artist, entitled Bell's Theorem (Reductio ad Infinitum).
Twenty years after his provocative essay, Bell has made two new paintings with the statements Contemporary Art, It's a White Thing and White Lies Matter. The first can be read as a broader critique of the Western dominance over all contemporary art production worldwide, including work by Indigenous artists. White Lies Matter is an indictment against the expropriation of land from Aboriginal communities by the British. The exhibition Relinking: Richard Bell brings his four statement paintings together for the very first time.
Delinking and Relinking
Bell's solo exhibition is part of the series Relinking, which encourages visitors to revisit the current collection presentation Delinking and Relinking with a different, critical perspective. In the series Relinking, the museum presents proposals for new additions to the collection.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
In the press
"It is Bells first solo exhibition in Europe, albeit on a small scale. As well as four paintings, the exhibition includes a film in which he talks from the ruins of his childhood home in Charleville, Queensland about the lack of rights for Aboriginal people. The fact that he is standing on the remains of the house that the government demolished without offering the family an alternative emphasises his message." Read entire article in NRC (Dutch)
"Isn't Bell's work a bit of a far cry for the Dutch museum visitor? Not at all. Discussions about colonialism and racism are also in full swing in the Netherlands, and what Bell says about the balance of power in the art world is certainly food for thought. The round table in the room serves as an invitation to further exchange views." Eindhovens Dagblad (Dutch)