Blak Douglas is an artist with a proud Dhungatti Aboriginal heritage. ‘When I first met him in 1997, he was still known as Adam Hill,’ says Euan Macleod, who won the 1999 Archibald Prize with a self-portrait.
‘We started working together preparing exhibition at the Australian Museum, where I had been since arriving in Sydney in 1981. We shared a love of mountain biking and went on many rides in the Blue Mountains.
‘I’ve watched his art career go from strength to strength, and I’ve greatly admired his political convictions and his strong, uncompromising work. I wanted to show the staunch, proud, totally committed painter, and when he talked of his “fire in the belly” it seemed the right direction to take the portrait. He was incredibly generous with his time as it required several sessions in my studio, which took him away from his own painting.
‘Blak Douglas has been an Archibald finalist four times, but this is the first time he’s been on the other side of the canvas. His work is very different to mine but there’s a mutual respect, which gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I really loved his alternative title: Orange is the new Blak.’