Richard Bell: 'My art is an act of protest'

Meet the artist and activist who challenges preconceived ideas about Aboriginal art

I make art for other Aboriginal people... I want [my art] to be empowering to them.

Richard Bell

Richard Bell makes art that addresses contemporary issues around identity, place and politics. The artist is a member of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang communities.

‘I found out that I could say whatever the f**k I wanted to in art and not get arrested’, says the artist.

In 2002 Bell published ‘Bell’s Theorem’, stating that ‘Aboriginal Art is not controlled by Aboriginal People’. In his essay, Bell proposes that Aboriginal art is a white invention.

Aboriginal Art has become a product of the times. A commodity. The result of a concerted and sustained marketing strategy, albeit, one that has been loose and uncoordinated. There is no Aboriginal Art Industry. There is, however, an industry that caters for Aboriginal Art. The key players in that industry are not Aboriginal. They are mostly white people whose areas of expertise are in the fields of Anthropology and "Western Art"

Richard Bell, Bell's Theorum 2002

Tate, The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Qantas are partners in an International Joint Acquisition Programme for contemporary Australian art. Richard Bell Embassy 2013–Ongoing was purchased jointly by Tate and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia with fund provided by the Qantas Foundation, 2016.

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