A cultural terrorist

Trevor NICKOLLS: artist

Not On Display

About the work

Trevor Nickolls and Rover Thomas were the first Indigenous artists to represent Australia at the prestigious Venice Biennale, in 1990. Many of Nickolls's paintings express allegorical and condensed representations of an existence within an increasingly industrialised environment. The artist often portrays himself as a metaphor for Everyman, drawing on his personal experience of mixed heritage.

A cultural terrorist projects the stark reality of the grotesque power of city development. A huge, intense central figure looms threateningly in front of a backdrop, the split facial device harking back to the archetype of earlier works like Political/spiritual (1981), though in this painting, done six years later, there is no harmony or balance of the emotive imagery. The tessellated patterning is a remnant of Arnhem Land cross-hatching (rarrk), revised and reformulated into cracked pavements. The painting is resolved through the use of only four primary colours - it is almost a drawing in paint. 1

1 Acknowledgments to O'Ferrall, 1990 Venice Biennale, Australia: Rover Thomas - Trevor Nickolls (Perth: Art Gallery of Western Australia, 1990).
A cultural terrorist
Artist/Maker and role
Trevor NICKOLLS: artist
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
125.5 x 125.1 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1988
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.