Metamorphosis (of Rover) synthetic polymer paint on canvas 60 x 84cm
PROVENANCE: Painted in 1998 Australian and International Arts, Adelaide Private collection
Trevor Nickolls is a significant 'urban' Aboriginal artist who has been working as an artist since the 1970's; he has inspired and influenced many artists while being a mentor for some. His work is represented in collections of all of the major art museums and galleries in Australia as well as in collections in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States of America and Canada.
Trevor Nickolls has developed an innovative style of art, combining Western artistic references with traditional Aboriginal elements, creating a totally unique and often complex iconography with many layers of meaning from the very serious to the humorous.
A major theme in his art is Dreamtime to Machinetime, a theme which articulates the cultural transition which many Aboriginal people have undertaken in their journey from their traditional cultural heritage of living in the Dreamtime, into the world of mechanisation and technology. Nickolls' work often presents various interactions between these two different worlds or shows the dilemma of living within both.
Subject matter includes the spirituality of the Aboriginal people and their interrelationship to land, sea, sky and cosmos where the people and elements are seen as integrated rather than separate.
This painting refers to a friendship and connection Nickolls had with the artist Rover Thomas since the two artists represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1990. Subsequently, Nickolls visited Thomas in his country at Warmun (Turkey Creek). In this painting, Nickolls paints Thomas' spirit being transformed after his death into that of a butterfly as he flies to the spirit world above the earth, hence the title: Metamorphosis (of Rover). Thomas is wearing the snakeskin boots Nickolls bought him in Italy as a gift. It shows Nickolls' respect and affection for Rover Thomas.