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Australian Aboriginal Art

Mary Brown, Ronnie Tjampitjimpa, Yalti Napaltjarri

and Auprrey Tjunjala George Tjunjarayae 

June 2006

Simultaneously with the opening of the Indigenous Art Museum in Paris, Total Arts at the Courtyard is hosting the exhibition of ‘Australian Aboriginal Artists’ Acrylic paintings by Central Australian Aboriginal people are one of the most exciting developments in modern Australian art. The paintings are mythical representations of landscapes or conceptual maps of designs wrought by ancestors. In this tradition, paintings, dances and songs relating to the dream time are repeating the work of ancestors, thus keeping the dreaming alive.


It is still in the tradition to represent many of the desert dreaming stories, and the sand paintings have been replaced by paintings on canvas. New styles like dot paintings and X-ray styles are the most popular modern art styles based on traditional dreaming and totemic representations. Symbols used within paintings include concentric circles, curved lines & straight lines. Concentric circles usually represent campsites, waterholes or places of significance. Curved lines generally represent rain or water traveling underground. Straight lines may be indicative of traveling & when these lines join concentric circles it may show the pathway traveled by the ancestors. A small "U" shaped figure may represent a person & depending on the iconography next to the person determines whether it is male or female. Dotted motifs & design work has become the trademark of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement.


Acrylic paintings are merely a new form incorporating the classic elements of Aboriginal life. They state a person's relationship to those around them, to the land and to the Dreaming. They also represent a new context of interaction between indigenous and western societies. Through modern art the Aboriginal people are able to introduce and express their culture to the world.


Biography of some of the artists participating in our exhibition:


George Tjunjarayae: Born near Kiwirrkurra in the Gibson Desert, Western Australia and commenced painting in about 1976. He often depicts in his paintings specific sacred sites located in his ancestral country, which are associated with the Tingari cycle of creation dreaming stories. He was voted “the most collectable artist” by the magazine, Australian Art Collector.

Ronnie Tjampitjimpa: Born at Tjiturrunya in Western Australia and commenced painting in about 1975 after observed the Papunya painting movement. His art is a good representation of the characteristic Pintupi style: repetition of forms, which are geometric, simple and bold, and pigments which are often restricted to four basic colors of black, red, yellow and white. But Ronnie experiments with other colors as well.


About the Museum of Indigenous Art in Paris: In June 2006, on the other side of the Eiffel Tower, France will open its long-awaited museum of world indigenous art. Some specialists believe the Musée du Quai Branly will change the way the world looks at Aboriginal art. What is very important is that the Aboriginal painters will probably be the only living contemporary artists displayed in the museum. The museum will feature more than 300,000 art works and artifacts from Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. But what makes Australia's contribution unique is that, at the request of architect Jean Nouvel, eight Aboriginal art works made especially for the museum will be embedded in its walls, ceilings and glass frontages. It is a mix of ancient and modern forms that will show that Aboriginal art is alive, both "ageless and contemporary".

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