Scientia e metaphysica (Bell's theorem)

Richard Bell2003

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

This work is part of an oeuvre that Richard Bell has been exploring over the past few years, with blocks of what he described as colour field studies arranged 'like liquorice allsorts, overlaid with sprays of Pollock-type paint', or in others the references are Emily-Kngwarreye-style calligraphy – with messages including 'I am not a winner', 'The meek inherited the earth (but lost it)', 'Life is a death sentence' and 'I am not sorry'. These works belong to his series from Bell's theorem as does this work in which the dominant message is 'Aboriginal art it's a white thing'. In his lengthy manifesto, Bell critiques the Aboriginal arts industry, which he considers treats art like a commodity – the industry is a product of the times, run largely by white people, which together with other market factors condemns it to non-Aboriginal control. This is the crux of the message in Scientia e metaphysica (Bell's theorem). The title is also a pun on the actual Bell's theorem, a mathematical theory relevant to quantum physics and the perception of reality © Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory


  • Title: Scientia e metaphysica (Bell's theorem)
  • Creator: Richard Bell
  • Creator Lifespan: 1953
  • Creator Nationality: Australian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: 2003
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Purchased 2003, Telstra Collection, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory © licensed by Milani Gallery
  • Medium: synthetic polymer paint on canvas
  • Geographical Region of Artist: Brisbane, North-east Australia
  • Exhibition: 20th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 2003
  • Ethnic Language Group: Gamilaraay
  • Dimensions: 240 x 360 cm (overall)
  • Collection: Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art
  • Award: Winner Telstra First Prize
  • Artist Ethnicity: Aboriginal

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