CINEMA, 1986

Important Fine Art + Aboriginal Art
2 December 2015


(1944 – 1993)
CINEMA, 1986

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

91.5 x 121.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: ROBERT CAMPBELL / JR / 6.5.86

$8,000 – 12,000
Sold for $42,700 (inc. BP) in Auction 41 - 2 December 2015, Sydney

Collection of Tony Coleing, New South Wales
Private collection, New South Wales

Catalogue text

Robert Campbell Jnr first began painting after returning to his hometown Kempsey in the early 1980s. His strong personal approach of using bold colours and a cartoon style to create images of intelligence, humour and charm that address the uncomfortable and often brutal history of racism and dispossession of twentieth-century Australia.

Cinema shows an outdoor movie theatre with a white line separating the local Indigenous from the non-Indigenous people. The indigenous people had to take a different entrance and sit on the ground while the non-indigenous had the actual seats in the back and someone cleaning the aisle.

Djon Mundine underlines the importance of Campbell’s work: ‘it came at a time when Aboriginal issues were being discussed like never before. The Land Rights movement had made white Australians conscious of the injustices perpetrated on Indigenous people. There was widespread public sympathy for Aboriginal protests and a rejection of the bigotries of the past. The stage was set for an artist to portray the history of black and white relations in a simple, non-aggressive manner.’1

1 McDonald, J., ‘Indigenous artist Robert Campbell Jnr harnesses shadows and light’, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 2015