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date: 15 October 2019

Onus, Linlocked

(b Melbourne, Dec 4, 1948; d 1996).
  • Wally Caruana


(b Melbourne, Dec 4, 1948; d 1996).

Australian Aboriginal painter, sculptor and printmaker. A member of the Wiradjuri people, he was self-taught, and his work, like that of many other Aboriginal artists from urban backgrounds, was ignored by the established art world until the 1980s. He went beyond the traditions of Aboriginal art, yet his work is informed by classical Aboriginal artistic concepts. His concern with depicting Australian life and history from an Aboriginal perspective is evidenced in his first major paintings, the Musquito series (1984; Melbourne, Aborigines Advancement League), which represents an Aboriginal guerrilla fighter in the early colonial era. The paintings are heroic in scope and scale and address official histories, which neglect Aboriginal resistance to colonization. By 1987 Onus had developed close associations with traditional artists, who influenced his work. Ensuing paintings juxtaposed images from European and Aboriginal worlds, reflecting the dilemmas and aspirations of Aboriginal people living in a predominantly non-Aboriginal society. Major works from this period include ...

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