Aboriginal camp at sunset
Aboriginal camp at sunset

Robert Campbell Junior

1944 - 1993 Aboriginal camp at sunset 1988
  • acrylic on canvas
107 cm x 122 cm

The day before the First Fleet arrives on the shores of Botany Bay, as imagined by Robert Campbell Jr in Aboriginal Camp at Sunset, a group of Indigenous men gather. The sun, setting on their final hours of true freedom, retains its sense of exuberance, embodying Campbell's unique ability to hold pain and pride in a delicate, defiant balance.

Campbell emerged as a singularly talented and incisive artist in the 1980s, his work recalling possum-skin cloaks and the engravings of Aboriginal shields, clubs and boomerangs. His original, graphic style drew upon the patterning of traditional Ngaku designs to depict the stories of his people and the ongoing impact of colonisation.

Many of Campbell's protagonists feature a red tie-like oesophagus, which evokes the X-ray technique used in Arnhem Land rock paintings of native animals and spirits. Expressing the ongoing relationship between Indigenous people and the natural and spiritual worlds, Campbell seamlessly integrates ancestral artistic conventions with a contemporary style.

Source: 2024 Biennale of Sydney

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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