Best of Activist Art: Blak Douglas

Born Adam Douglas Hill Blacktown, the artist now known as Blak Douglas requires little introduction. A four-time finalist in the Archibald Prize, 2019, winner of the Kilgour Prize and widely collected, he is a prolific producer of incisive politically and socially charged works. Straddling dual Aboriginal and Anglo heritage, the motivation to produce protest art is deeply personal for Blak, who reminds us that the Australian Indigenous community have faced, “233 years of racial prejudice from an invading colony of ethnocentric, trespassing sapiens.” A self-taught painter, Blak began putting brush to canvas as a hobby in 1998 in his hometown of Penrith, NSW among a small collective of Aboriginal artists. “Whilst many other Koori artists painted dots and cross hatching, I commented on environmental issues and community life,” he says. By 2000, he had relocated to Sydney to be immersed in the arts and social justice scene of Redfern. Blak’s formal training in graphic design and illustration is evident in his distinctively stylized aesthetic, using synthetic polymer paints on cotton, boldly outlined in black. Firmly cemented within the annals of Australian art, Blak astutely addresses the issues pertaining to human rights and justice that continue to plague First Nations peoples and modern society at large.

Featured image: Blak Douglas, K9 v’s bloodline on the breadline. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 220cm. Courtesy: the artist and Nanda\Hobbs, Sydney.

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