Lin Onus 'Meaning of Life I'

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Lin Onus, a Yorta Yorta artist of Aboriginal and Scottish descent, represents a singular voice in Australia’s cultural life. Esteemed for his wit, talent and panache, Onus’s work is a negotiation of culture identity, using both Aboriginal and Western techniques to unsettle categorisation.

After being racistly expelled from school at age fourteen, Onus worked as a mechanic and activist, before teaching himself to draw. He forged a style that combined photo-realism, surrealism and indigenous iconography. Not only was this reflective of his heritage, it also represented his attitude at large, which championed reconciliation over alienation.

Recognisably Onus, ‘Meaning of Life I’ is a quietly profound work. It comprises three layers: a flat, charcoal plane; a pool of blue feathers, dappled with the reflections of trees; and something in between, reminiscent of spilt water or a widening crack. Onus is interested in deepening perspective, looking through the water to the creek bed below. There is a harmony here as well as a challenge to one’s viewing position – a reminder that violence, dispossession and displacement lies within Australian history.

Detailed, multi-coloured and impeccably composed, ‘Meaning of Life I’ testifies to an artist whose artistic vision was only matched by his activism. Caught between different worlds, Onus wrote in 1990 that he hoped to be remembered as a “bridge between cultures, technology and ideas”. With representation in most major Australian collections and an OBE, it is undoubtable that he has. ‘Meaning of Life I’ is the only signed edition of its kind.

For collectors of important Australian, Aboriginal and contemporary art, give your collection new life with this profound work.

Lin ONUS (1948 - 1996)
'Meaning of Life I' 1994
Screenprint on paper
Image Size: 74 x 113 cm
Dimensions: 81 x 121 cm
Signed: Signed, titled, and inscribed in pencil in margin below image: x1 Meaning of Life I Lin Onus. This is the only signed and titled screen print of its kind.
Comes with Letter of Provenance. 
A similar impression is represented at the National Gallery of Australia. 

Condition: Very Good: Describes a work of art’s image as Excellent, but may show some small signs of surrounding wear. There are no tears to paper margin or disruption to the image.

© Lin Onus / Copyright Agency 2022