This is a portrait of Eddie Mabo, an activist from the Torres Strait Islands by Gordon Bennett. Its full title is “Eddie Mabo (after Mike Kelley's 'Booth's Puddle' 1985, from Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's profile) No.3”.

It is a large and extremely complex painting on unframed, stretched canvas. Painted with acrylic paint, it is 168.0 cm high x 152.5 cm wide. The upper part of the painting has a background covered by words and phrases and the oversize smiling face of Eddie is centrally placed and dominates the image. The bottom third of the painting breaks out into a series of different styles.

The background of the upper larger section of the portrait has words and phrases in white, yellow ochre and red ochre, varying sizes and fonts layered over each other and crowded within the frame. A visual cacophony. The phrases include: people dispossessed, hurt lingers, white myths damage our souls, rednecks rule, abo threat, opinion analysis, underbelly of racism.

The oversized face of Eddie Mabo is centrally placed overlaying the mass of text. He is recognisable yet not painted realistically. He has dark, tightly curled hair brushed back off his high forehead. His face is an unusual combination of black, tan, white and green, the white indicating light and the green showing shadow. There is pixilation across his forehead, his broad nose and his left cheek.

His wide set, semi-circle eyes gaze to his right as if amused at something just out of view. His lopsided broad and beaming smile rounds and lifts his cheeks, and his generous mouth is open, revealing large, white teeth. He has a thick bottom lip.

His ample moustache extends into his beard which covers the lower part of his face and chin. At his neck his beard merges into the ochre background. Three fine lines, cobalt blue, mid-green, and black outline Mabo’s head and beard. Scribbly black lines of varying thickness that look like the outline of hills are where his left shoulder would be. Underneath these lines is the statement ‘Make no right turns’.

Below this an expanse of vibrant, mottled yellow contains simple white outlines of leaves, animals, hand prints and concentric circles forming a distinct yet irregular pattern.

The bottom of the painting is a modern cityscape, a picture within a picture. Skyscrapers of varying heights extend from the left edge of the painting to just past the centre where the built environment collapses into a mess of black angular and curving lines.

A strip of red paint extends cross the bottom printed with the statement ‘That fork in the road leads only to despair – madness’. In the far-right corner is the signature J Citizen ’96

Audio description written by Krysia Kitch and voiced by Rory Walker