Saturday, 8 March 2008

Indigenous art exhibition opens in Osaka Japan

Below is a transcript from ABC's PM program on Radio National about an exhibition being held in Osaka Japan. Aboriginal Art is incredibly popular all over the world and here is another example of the diverse locations that Aboriginal Art is making waves in. Click on the link at the bottom of the page if you would like to listen to the interview online.

PM - Monday, 3 March , 2008 18:37:00

Reporter: Shane McLeod

MARK COLVIN: The profile of Australian art is getting a boost in Japan with the launch of a major exhibition by the great aboriginal painter Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

The exhibition has just opened in the city of Osaka.

It's the biggest ever international exhibition of the works of an Australian artist.

Those behind the show are hoping to open Japanese eyes to the unique story of Kngwarreye's work: an Indigenous woman who took up the brush and canvas late in life and produced works what many regard as works of genius.

Tokyo correspondent Shane McLeod attended the launch for PM.

SHANE MCLEOD: Japan is known as one of the richest art markets in the world but it's also a country where to become a big name in art, it helps if you're European.

It's a mindset that the organisers of a major new exhibition launched in the city of Osaka hope to change.

Featured is the art of Indigenous Australian Emily Kame Kngwarreye. She was around 80 years old when she first put brush to canvas, from the tiny community of Utopia in central Australia.

Her abstracts stunned the art world; more in keeping with 20th Century modernism than conceptions on Indigenous art.

Margot Neale from the National Museum of Australia wants the exhibition to make a big impression in Japan.

MARGOT NEALE: If they've ever wanted to have master art, they never look to Australia.

So, it's going to be very intriguing for the Japanese saying well how come, you know the National Arts Centre of Tokyo, or the National Museum of Osaka are doing a blockbuster on this lady called Emily who we've never even heard of, who's supposed to be a master from the red heart of the desert of Australia; ancient you know black woman and all of that.

So that extra story is going to absolutely create a fantastic unsettling.

SHANE MCLEOD: Margot Neale has coordinated the effort to put together the largest ever overseas exhibition of an Australian artist.

There are 120 works on show from more than 60 different collections. Included among them is the art work of Kngwarreye's that set records in Australia; the massive Earth's Creation last year set a record for Indigenous art, when it changed hands for more than one million dollars.

But the head of Osaka's National Museum of Art isn't interested in the price tags.

Akira Tatehata is awed by the artistic quality of works painted by an 80-year-old woman in the middle of central Australia.

(sound of Akira Tatehata speaking)

At the beginning I was just stunned, he says. I stood there absent-mindedly in front of the painting. But suddenly it was joy. It was such a strong feeling it was strange even to me but tears started falling. I thought, why am I crying? I didn't know why I was crying. Perhaps I was so moved because I came in touch with something so beautiful.

SHANE MCLEOD: Emily Kngwarreye died in 1996. In the years since her death her reputation has grown.

Professor Tatehata was so intrigued by her history that he travelled to outback Australia to see first hand where she created her art.

(sound of Akira Tatehata speaking)

The air, the wind and the nature in the bush and the desert are near her grave. What I experienced overlapped with the memory of when I see her paintings. I gained a deeper understanding and it became real.

I'd simply thought it was modern art, but by going there, I was able to understand the depth of something that I'd seen in a very modern context.

SHANE MCLEOD: Nearly one fifth of the works on display are from the private collection of one of Emily Kngwarreye's most enthusiastic supporters, Australian businesswoman Janet Holmes a Court.

JANET HOLMES A COURT: It's only fitting that they should end up here but of course that wasn't on our minds when we bought it.

The first reason we bought Emily's work was that we were deeply moved by it; we liked it. It's almost a visceral response that I have to it.

SHANE MCLEOD: After two months in Osaka the exhibition will move to Tokyo's National Art Centre in May.

This is Shane McLeod reporting for PM.

Exhibition from the East Gippsland Aboriginal Artists

Article about a new exhibition from the East Gippsland Aboriginal Arts Corporation

Not just dots

Aboriginal art, especially Aboriginal art from East Gippsland, is about more than dots - that's the message the East Gippsland Aboriginal Arts Corporation is hoping to convey in a newly opened exhibition.

Wood-burnings, mono-prints, pastels, pen and ink drawings and contemporary paintings line the walls of an exhibition by artists of the East Gippsland Aboriginal Art Corporation. But one thing you wont see here are dot paintings.

"Everybody walks in and I think they honestly expect to see dots," says East Gippsland Aboriginal Art Corporation executive officer Robyn Evans. "They expect to see bark paintings and ground ochre and they are usually stunned by the contemporary style and medium and also the colour."

Robyn says the art corporation - which is unique among arts organisations in that it is 100 per cent Aboriginal owned and controlled and the only Aboriginal artists' corporation in Victoria - actively dissuades its artists from going for dots.

"We are very big on not appropriating from other places, which is why we dissuade dots unless people have links to places where they are able to do that.

"We also help our artists research their own symbols and markings from their own areas. East Gippsland is a diverse lot of people - they are not all Gunnai Kurnai, they are not all from Gippsland - they come from other places, so you will see a variety of styles based on where people have come from," Robyn says.

She says since the corporation started in the early 1990s it has been an uphill battle to convince the public that dots don't necessarily denote Aboriginal art.

"We are still fighting a common perception that all Aboriginal arts is dots and comes from the territory - the top end.

"We are still trying to show people that we are here and we make art and it is just as beautiful and just as culturally unique and authentic as anywhere else in the country.

Rather than producing typical traditional works, Robyn says the Aboriginal artists of the East Gippsland corporation express their heritage in a variety of ways.

"People are actually depicting what is important to them and that's the common denominator, and they are sharing their culture in a wide variety of mediums. We've got traditional painters, wood burning, pastel work and printmaking. Some of it is very, very contemporary and abstract, and some of it is more realistic. All of it is expressing people's aboriginality in some way, in some form.

Artist Brett Ross, who draws detailed pictures in pen on paper, says he became inspired to start producing art after discovering his Aboriginal heritage.

"I was fostered out, and then I found my natural mother, and then I started learning about my culture, because I didn't know where I was from ... that's my inspiration - finding out who I am."

Brett says for him the process of drawing is almost like being in a trance-like state.

"I wake up out of my drawing mode and I'm like: 'oh, wow, did I do that?'

"That's the reason why I sketch, because I love art. I'm passionate about it."

Jennifer Mullet, who produces abstract symbolic artworks across a range of mediums, says she is influenced by the landscape of the bush.

"I spent a lot of time living in different areas of Australia. I spent the early part of my life in far-East Gippsland, in the bush. It's always been a huge influence on my work, I keep coming back to the landscape," Jennifer explains.

Jennifer says her art is also informed by world events, with one of her pieces in this exhibition a yellow canvas covered with the word 'sorry' written several times in red paint.

She produced the work in 2007, when then Prime Minister John Howard was refusing to issue a formal apology to the Aboriginal stolen generations. But Jennifer says in many ways the painting holds more significance now that new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has apologised.

"It's been acknowledged. It symbolises the recognition of the stolen people."

Nirmba Gidi Quarenook - Blak Swans Gatherin' an exhibition by the East Gippsland Aboriginal Arts Corporation is on display at Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale unitl March 30.

Aboriginal Art Showcased in Bahrain

Aboriginal Art continues to spread globally with an exhibition this week in

the island kingdom of Bahrain, set in the heart of the Arabian Gulf.

With the enormous wealth and development throughout the gulf region and the locals appetite for the best of everything, high quality Australian Aboriginal Art is poised to make a major impact in the region in the future.

With exhibitions last year in Dubai, and The Melbourne Racing Club presenting Aboriginal Art as part of their racing tour in the past, this is surely the beginning of a very exciting market for Aboriginal Art!

Below you will find a copy of the article and link to the source.

Chance to see aboriginal art

AUTHENTIC contemporary Australian Aboriginal artwork will be unveiled at 7pm tonight during the opening of the Warlukurlangu Artists exhibition at La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Manama.

The exhibition will showcase the work of Otto Simms and Ormay Gallagher, who work for the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Association (WAAA) art centre in Yuendumu, Australia.

It is the first visit for the artists, who are accompanied by centre director Cecilia Alfonso.

The artists are members of the Warlpiri community, which has its largest concentration in Yuendumu, and will present a collection of collectible acrylic work at the exhibition.

"Australian Aboriginal art is the oldest living art tradition in the world, done by Australian Aborigines with paintings in rock shelters dating back 20,000 years, as well as contemporary art by Aborigines based on traditional culture," said Ms Alfonso.

"Art is one of the key rituals of Aboriginal culture and is used to mark territory and record history.

"Several pieces of Aboriginal art are distinctive to certain groups and you can usually tell what group painted a piece by looking at the symbols that could represent meeting places, watering holes, male or female subjects or even animals that were represented by their tracks," she told the GDN.

"The main aim of our centre is to help Aboriginal artists get a fair price because sometimes they have a hard time grasping the value of their work."

The exhibition will continue till April 12 and is open to all from 10am-1pm and from 4pm-6pm daily, except on Fridays.

It is also expected to tour Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong later this year.

For more information, contact 17230123 or visit

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