Luke Roberts / Australia b.1952 / The Spearing (A) and (B) Camera: John Elliott (A); Kevyn Chase (B) 2009 / Giclée print / Two parts: 210 x 140cm / The James C. Sourris AM Collection. Gift of James C. Sourris AM through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2011 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Luke Roberts
The Spearing (A) and (B) Camera: John Elliott (A); Kevyn Chase (B) 2009

On Display: QAG, Gallery 12

In his diptych The Spearing (A) and (B) Camera: John Elliott (A); Kevyn Chase (B) 2009, Roberts sets up an open dialogue between two images that parodies the art world, and agitates Australian race relations. In one frame, the history of tyrants is grasped in the hands of Roberts in his hometown of Alpha in central Queensland.

In the other, the museological history of aboriginal artefacts is brought into the contemporary context of a white studio in which Indigenous Australian artist Richard Bell stands ready to throw a spear out of the frame on an implied path toward the arched back of Roberts.

Both the spear and the book, titled Tyrants: History’s 100 most evil despots and dictators, are playfully recontextualised into a narrative that invites questions about the presence of tyranny in Australia’s past and present.

Queensland artist Luke Roberts was born in Alpha, central Queensland, in 1952. He studied at the Julian Ashton School in Sydney in 1971, and from 1972–74 at the Queensland College of Art. He respects the popular culture and folklore of regional Australia, while often seeming to parody it. He is also deeply immersed in Roman Catholicism and other forms of religion and spiritualism, despite the fact that the raucousness of his art frequently implies an anti-clerical attitude.

Kitsch, the occult, and the supernatural are all aspects of his work, largely because they go beyond the proper standards and conventions of our culture and definitions of art. Roberts uses humour, parody and wit to investigate the possibility of accepted wisdom being wrong. The assumption that Queensland has a higher percentage of eccentric ideologies than most places is something Roberts relishes.