In this essay I shall be exploring the art of contemporary Australian artist, Lin Onus (1948-1996) and explaining the themes, meanings, and other features of his paintings. I shall also delve into the life of this legendary aboriginal artist and the different meanings of his works.
Lin onus was an only child born to an aboriginal father and a Scottish mother in Melbourne, Victoria. His love of art began of a young age, as he helped his father Bill makes aboriginal artifacts like didgeridoos. Onus was also influenced by his mother’s cultural heritage, acquiring a taste for classical art styles. Onus first trained as a mechanic before beginning his art career, but throughout this time he remained connected with his aboriginal relatives in the Arnhem Land. He became quite close to an aboriginal elder called Jack Wunuwun who was also his mentor and talented artist. His first exhibition was held in Melbourne 1975, in the following years he held more then 18 solo exhibitions.
Onus art style is a merging of western realist art styles and traditional aboriginal art. When he was younger he developed his ability to paint in the western style and throughout his life he learnt more about aboriginal art styles. So with knowledge of the two markedly different styles Onus was able to merge them to create his own distinct art style. A great example of his hybrid art style is his famous painting “Michael and I are slipping down to the pub for a minute” (see image) in this painting he uses thick paint, contrasting colors, and the sea spray is made of dots. However the sky and clouds are clearly realistic and the ocean is created with long fluid brush strokes, also the shape and body of the dingo/dog is reminiscent of realism art. This painting has aspects of both cultures and styles this style of painting is unique to Onus as very few people have such a deep understanding of both art styles, and only Onus has been able to have both styles on the same canvas and...
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