Paintings from the very heart of the contemporary Indigenous art movement are now on exhibition in Geelong.
Metropolis Gallery, in association with Tjala Arts, Tjungu Palya and Ernabella Arts, is exhibiting over 35 paintings from the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of central Australia.
Gail Napangati, ‘Grandmother Story’, acrylic on linen, 122 x 122 cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
The APY Lands covers a vast region of far northern South Australia stretching from the Sturt Highway to the Western Australian border. The region is home to several thriving Aboriginal-owned art centres and the art from this area is renowned for its kaleidoscopic patterns of colour and powerful iconography.
Robert Avitabile, Director of Metropolis Gallery opened the exhibition last week. He said “The artworks from the APY Lands are rich in artistic and cultural value that relate to each artist’s unique interpretation of their environment, culture, memories, family histories and ‘Tjukurpa’ or Creation Time stories. Their paintings are characterised by a rich colour palette and an almost tapestry-like surface quality.”
Wawiriya Burton, Mingkiri – Mice, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 152.5 cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
The striking ‘dot paintings’ convey different levels of meaning depending on the viewers understanding of Tjukurpa (Aboriginal belief system which is specific to different groups and encompasses the past, present and future). The intricate patterns, often rendered in vibrant colours with strong contrasts, can serve different purposes: artists may use dot patterning to represent stories of everyday life, the landscape and bush tucker, but they may also be used to hide sacred designs which can only be viewed by those entitled to do so.
“It’s a nice paradox that we can find in such contemporary paintings such a living strength of ancient stories,” Avitabile said. “Over the last ten years, there’s been a rapid growth in painting across the APY Lands and it’s testament to the ambitions of the artists and their small communities that art centres like Ernabella, Tjala Arts and Tjungu Palya, are now nurturing future stars of the contemporary indigenous art movement.”
Alison Munti Riley, Ngayuku Ngura – My Country, acrylic on linen, 101.5 x 152.5 cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
The exhibition includes works by Gail Napangati, Pantjiti Lionel, Wawiriya Burton, Milpati Baker, Pepai Jangala Carroll, Maureen Baker, Sandra Ken, Yaritji Stevens, Alison Munti Riley, Mona Mitakiki Shepherd and Ruth Fatt.
Tjala Arts, Tjungu Palya and Ernabella Arts: Paintings from the APY Lands of far northern South Australia runs until 3 November 2012 at Metropolis Gallery, 64 Ryrie Street, Geelong. Ph: 03 5221 6505. More information about the exhibition is available on the Metropolis website www.metropolisgallery.com.au
Yurpiya Lionel, Ngayuku Ngura – My Country, acrylic on canvas, 68 x 100 cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
• Paintings of the Western Desert (2011)