Jung's Secret Book, Aboriginal Paintings, and Mandalas

Aboriginal Art Directory | 09.11.09

Very interesting article, here is an excerpt:

But Is It Art?
Here I want to make the case that we should not look at Australian Aboriginal paintings, Jung's visionary drawings (1902-1913), or Tibetan mandalas as art, for to do so is reductive.

Yet so much depends upon Marcel Duchamp. Both The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1925-23) -- see above illustration -- and Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas... (1946-1966) are so opaque they seem to be resultants of alien equations, obscure investigations, secret rituals, maps of other states of consciousness.

This too is the charm of the Aboriginal paintings now at the Grey Gallery, the Tibetan Buddhist mandalas at the Rubin Museum, and the images from Carl Jung's long-suppressed record of his possibly transcendent ego-trip.

Because the forms in each of these exhibitions are determined by extra-aesthetic motivations and/or content is why they are so vital. They really are derived from alien equations, obscure investigations, secret rituals, maps of other states of consciousness. The forms, splendidly anti-compositional, could not be arrived at any other way. They were generated by other than aesthetic means.

I knew of the Aboriginal paintings much before I visited Australia, but once there as Guest Professor of Something or Another in the capitol city of Canberra, I could not avoid them. They are even depicted on postage stamps. There are now as many Aboriginal artists as there are Euro-Australian ones, which means there is a higher percentage of Aboriginal artists within the indigenous population than the percentage of artists among the Euro-Australians. This does not mean that the art market has solved the poverty problem for indigenous peoples of the sub-continent. Art projects rarely solve economic problems, particularly ones based on colonialism and racism. Nor does it explain why some "dot paintings" go for more than any white Australian equivalent. The latter, however, explains why there are so many fakes.

URL: http://www.artsjournal.com/artopia/2009/11/jungs_secret_book_aboriginal_p.html


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