Hybridity and Transformation: The Art of Lin Onus

Bill Ashcroft


Lin Onus, who died prematurely in 1996, is an Aboriginal painter who focuses on some of the most pressing debates affecting contemporary Aboriginal art, not the least of which is “What is Aboriginal art?” This article analyses the political dimension of his work available to a postcolonial reading, which is often interpreted in terms of Aboriginal postmodernism. His painting addresses the large issues of place and history and their dominance by colonial discourse; they are meta-representational in their revealing and subverting of the processes of colonial representation. Using humour and satire with bite, Onus’s painting reverses the gaze of colonial discourse. The essay addresses the various issues Onus’s work raises: their meta-representational power, the place of indigenous animals such as dingoes; the interpolation of History, and the vision of the future.

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