Lin Onus 'Pawns—Red'

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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.

In ‘Pawns – Red’, Onus depicts a chess board in the colours of the Aboriginal flag – red, yellow and black. He is making a political statement, alluding to how White Australia has treated Aboriginal peoples as pawns in their colonial mission. As always, the result is tongue in cheek, playing with perspective, history and identity.

Detailed, multi-coloured and impeccably composed, ‘Pawns – Red’ 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.

For collectors of important Australian, Aboriginal and contemporary art, uncover new horizons with ‘Pawns – Red’.

Lin ONUS (1948 - 1996)
'Pawns—Red' 1996
Screenprint on paper
Edition of 20
Image Size: 41 x 61 cm
Dimensions: 56 x 76 cm
Signed: Signed, titled, and numbered in pencil in margin below image: 2/20 Pawns—Red Onus; bears the seal of The Estate of Lin Onus lower right.
Comes with Letter of Provenance

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