A fusion of genre, Adrian Newstead’s The Dealer is the Devil examines the Indigenous art industry. A blur of personal memoir and art history, the book captures the trajectory of one of the 20th century’s greatest art movements.
Also the director of Coo-ee Art Gallery, Newstead spoke at the Byron Bay Writers festival about the 100 most influential artists during the Indigenous art movement.
Sessino chair, the teacher, translator, journalist, and commentator, Edna Carew asked Newstead how had Indigenous art climbed onto the world stage in the way that it did.
Despite the Indigenous art movement being globally renowned, “only a small number of Australian Aboriginal artists have broken through onto the world stage,” replied Newstead.
According to Newstead, “Emily Kame Kngwarreye is the only traditional Aboriginal artist who has work shown on the international stage as the art of a great Australian painter.”
Newton also spoke of the criticism Indigenous artists have received regarding their collaboration practices. He said these reproaches stem from “elitism, prejudice, racism, and a lack of understanding about how art is made”.
“If Aboriginal people can’t collaborate with appropriate family members then,” in Newstead’s opinion, “there is no future for Aboriginal art.”
These same collaborative practices occur extensively within the non-Indigenous art market, but are in no way scrutinised with the same ferocity, nor receive the same criticism, as those of Indigenous artists.
Newstead considers his years spent at Boy Scouts as the one factor that enabled him to transform his passions into his vocation. Newstead spent a great deal of time assisting Guboo Ted Thomas establish Dreaming Camps in Southern New South Wales. Those Boy Scout skills became invaluable during those years spent in the bush.
Stevi-Lee Alver studies creative writing at Southern Cross University.