The most eye-opening show of Aboriginal art ever

Aboriginal Art Directory | 04.08.09

Here goes: This is finest show of Aboriginal art I have ever seen.

It is neither the biggest (only 20 barks, and some objects), nor the most varied (it is narrow in range), but the works are unique in historical and aesthetic qualities. Every item is superb. Many are magnificent. And this is the first time – since being collected about seventy years ago – they have been shown in public.

Soandtherefore, if you happen to be in Melbourne before or on August 23, head straight for the Ian Potter Museum of Art at Melb. Uni. (not the Ian Potter gallery in the city). I have had the good luck to have seen it three times.

The exhibition is titled “The most eye-opening show of Aboriginal art I have ever seen”. No, alright, actually: Ancestral power and the aesthetic: Arnhem Land paintings and objects from the Donald Thomson Collection, curated by Lindy Allen, who has spent the last two decades working with the collection.

It hasn’t had much publicity; there were reports in Crikey on 12 June by Henry Skerritt, and Nicholas Rothwell in the Australian, 4 June (Henry’s uncut piece here.) Culture Mulcher has been procrastinating writing about it – there are things to say but I’m still mulling, and I want to look more. But there’s not much time left before it closes, so anyone who has a feeling for Aboriginal art should go soonest.

To quote Rothwell: ‘For lovers of Aboriginal art, this is an event of the highest significance. It may be compared with the revelation of a roomful of unknown works from the Florentine trecento: early pieces that hold in them clues to the majesty of the bark painting schools of more recent times.’


Four very particular things to note about this show.

1) The sheer size of the bigger barks.
2) For me, the show is an absolute proof of Aboriginal paintings as art of the highest order.
3) The patterning in these works is literally dazzling.
4) The pictures were painted with the simplest hand-made tools.


Share this: » » Digg it » reddit » Google » StumbleUpon » Technorati » Facebook

Contact Details

Gallery: Ian Potter Museum of Art - The University of Melbourne
Telephone: +61 3 8344 5148
Address: Swanston Street Parkville Melbourne 3010 Victoria



Further Research

News Archive