Clinton Nain

Born 1971, Carlton, Victoria

Since obtaining his Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) at the Victorian College of the Arts (1992–94), and more recently his Master of Fine Art (Research) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (2001–03), Clinton Nain has established a significant place in the critical debates of contemporary Australian art. Nain’s work lifts the rug to uncover a poorly hidden shame of Australia’s past and present, the orchestrated ill-treatment of the traditional owners of this land. Nain’s potent imagery exposes the brutal and contemptuous nature underlying European settlement of the many Indigenous nations of this continent, now Australia. He utilises an apt sense of humour to inject these somewhat bleak topics with eroticism and wit. He is also a dancer, performer and storyteller. In 1999, Nain began his ‘White King, Blak Queen’ series, exploring the tainted path of colonisation through a unique and vital black feminine perspective, challenging white masculine dominance. Through performance, storytelling and staining fabrics with bleach, the Blak Queen boldly quests for equality. Nain explored these ideas further in his 2001 Sherman Galleries exhibition, ‘Whitens, Removes Stains, Kills Germs’. The artist’s brother, writer John Harding, states: ‘The Blak Queen is omnipotent, knows no boundaries and recognises no colonising fences. She has even transformed herself into a bird and flown out a window! She can turn everyday household items into weapons against colonisation and the fading of memory. Her splashes of bleach become evocative images of lingering memories, prodding us to remember the truth.’ (Melbourne, 2001) More recently, Nain’s ‘Mission Brown’ series, first shown at Sherman Galleries in the 2003 exhibition, ‘Living Under the Bridge’, provokes us to consider those living under the crumbling bridges of reconciliation.