Australia is a land of endearing oddities — zoological, scenic, and artistic. The history of the nethermost continent-country on the planet dates back thousands of years before the Western world co-opted it as a penal colony. In the 1930s, Albert Namatjira of the Western Arrernte tribe renewed and reclaimed the native modes of artistic expression through the Hermannsburg school. His pioneering efforts inspired fellow aboriginals to reconnect with their tribal culture and history.
You will find the art of the early inhabitants on rocks, wood, and caves. Now, homes and museums have also become venues for aboriginal art. Here are four reasons you should purchase indigenous Australian artworks.
#1 Rootedness in the Land
The history of the Aboriginals is intertwined with their natural landscape. Nature supplied their canvases and pigments. They told their dreamtime stories on tree bark and cave walls. They used saliva, blood, or plant sap to mix and bind their colours. While contemporary artists use cotton or duck fabric and acrylic paints, they stay true to their roots with earthy ochres and watery blues.
#2 A Different Perspective
Native Australian art is visually distinct. It uses geometric shapes like circles and squares along with dots and lines to tell stories — collective and personal, old and new. They render shapes with varying degrees of precision and perfection. Eyes trained to appraise Western art styles like Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo will have a new exercise when they encounter aboriginal paintings. Studying the forms, textures, and colours in tandem with aboriginal art history will reveal a rich sign system.
#3 History and Mythology
As a legal-national entity, Australia is a good 117 years old. However, its first inhabitants arrived more than 50,000 years ago. Contemporary aboriginal artists tap into an ancient cultural legacy when creating their work. ‘Aboriginal’ does not refer to a single group or groups with monolithic customs. It is an umbrella term for upward of 500 tribal communities with their beliefs, practices, and languages. While intersections are possible, each tribe has a unique background you can infer through its mythology. Contemporary aboriginal art might sound like an oxymoron, but it is a fruitful and beautiful visitation of the new with the old.
#4 Support for Australian Artists and Art Forms
Buying aboriginal art is a gesture of support to individual artists and the aboriginal art community. If you are aboriginal, you may purchase a work of art to connect to your roots or display your lineage prominently in your home. If you are not, this art will not be merely a home furnishing but a conversation starter. Thoughtfully presenting and discussing such art with a broader audience will generate curiosity, interest, and respect. If you’re an international visitor looking for an authentic souvenir, take home an indigenous artwork. It will last longer than Vegemite and is infinitely more meaningful than a fridge magnet.
Wrapping It Up
Native Australian art harmonises motion and stillness through its layout, simplicity and complexity through its symbolic forms and ancient and modern sensibilities through the materials artists use and the myths or moments they capture. An aboriginal masterpiece from Australia is a choice addition to your collection if you’re an art connoisseur, a critic, or an aesthete.
Reach out to art galleries from Australian stores. Their curators will introduce you to established and upcoming aboriginal artists and gladly enlighten you on the symbols, traditions, and trends in contemporary indigenous art.