Artist Profile: Blak Douglas

THROUGH PARODY AND APPROPRIATION, AWARD-WINNING ARTIST BLAK DOUGLAS REMINDS THE VIEWER OF THEIR PLACE IN AUSTRALIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE. STELLA MARTINO WRITES.

Redfern-based Indigenous artist Blak Douglas describes his work as “productive pieces of art designed to remind the layperson…we occupy stolen land”. The self-taught talent developed his own distinct style over his 20 years of practice, using acrylic paint to experiment with texture. “These include baking in direct sun light and incorporating cracking medium to arrive at exaggerated cracks and effects,” says Blak.

A viewing of the The Brown Bros., a sign-writing duo in Prospect, Sydney, at the age of seven inspired Blak to pursue his own artistic journey. Witnessing artist Kevin Butler on consignment in 1998 further ignited that flame and Blak soon became part of a collective of Koori artists who painted out of an industrial unit in Jamisontown as a hobby. Today, Blak works in his personal studio in Redfern.

For Blak, providing viewers with an alternative perspective of Indigenous art and the ironies we have been led to believe as Australians is his main goal. Themes of truth, parody and irony are dominant in Blak’s work which often take on the image of a familiar landscape and signage with a humorous twist. The aim for this artist? “Ensuring when one views that sign again, they’ll revert back to the one I’ve modified in the aim of delivering the provocative message.”

Blak recently won the prestigeous Kilgour Portrait Prize. The $50,000 prize was awarded to Blak  for his portrait of Ursula Yovich and was selected from hundreds of entries. The KILGOUR PRIZE 2019 exhibition showcasing the 30 finalists runs until 13 October 2019 at Newcastle Art Gallery.

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