The Finkelstein Files: A Few of My Favourite Things!!!



In the last post for the year, 2017 has been a rollercoaster ride for many.

I for one, am looking forward to a complete summer break with my favourite little peeps, my twin 8 year old’s.

 It’s all about having fun and being in the moment, taking our time, and few plans except soaking up the much-needed sunshine and feeling the sand between our toes in between bouts of body surfing.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Thierry B Fine Art‘s valued clientele for their ongoing support throughout 2017.

We’d also like to thank our behind-the scenes-colleagues who logistically make it all possible to keep up the pace, as one of Australia’s busiest commercial art galleries.

Here are a few of my favourite things below!!!


 

As we countdown the last 6 days until we close the gallery for our break, our gallery hours include Monday – Saturday 11am – 5pm & Sunday 12pm – 5pm or by appointment. Re-opening the 15th January, if you are in town come by and check out our new stockroom full of beautiful paintings.

Have a happy holiday with your loved ones of near and far, and return next year in good health, ready for an even bigger and better 2018!!

Lots of love, Thierry & Vicki

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Thierry B Fine Art: What Makes Contemporary Aboriginal Art?

What Makes Contemporary Aboriginal Art ?

The contradiction of Aboriginal art is that it is both timeless and contemporary at the same time. This duality challenges the Western understanding of the progress of culture and ideas. Since Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous living culture in the world , her artwork has existed for 40,000 years and is rooted in the human pre-history. Through songs, rituals, dances, storytelling, symbols and meaningful patterns that are being passed on, Aboriginal groups have managed to preserve their culture for thousands of years. When a group of elder desert men first started to paint their cultural heritage using paper and canvas, that was the birth of the movement that much influenced Aboriginal communities and Australian art in general. For the majority of Westerners, this was the first encounter with Aboriginal culture in general. Having a timeless connection to the pre-history and the first inhabitants of the Australian landscape, Aboriginal art has also been perceived as an innovative and iconic art form inherent to Australia.

Gloria Petyarre, Bush Medicine Leaves, Acrylic on Linen, 204 x 139 cm.

The Origins of Aboriginal Contemporary Art

The first desert works emerged in Papunya in 1971. A white Australian teacher and art worker Geffrey Bardon who was working in a remote community in Central Australia started an art program with children and elder men in the village. When elder men started to translate their knowledge of traditional folklore onto canvas, this was the birth of the contemporary art movement. Soon after, eleven men have formed a cooperative called Papunya Tula Artists, and the movement started to generate a widespread interest across rural and remote Aboriginal Australia.  Over subsequent decade as many Aboriginal communities contributed with their specific culture and knowledge, these differences developed into different pictorial languages and regional styles emphisizing their diversity. These initial works that include pieces by now famous Aboriginal artists such as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, are today considered as the foundation of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement and are accounted as very valuable. The art critic and writer Robert Hughes has described the rise of contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art as ‘the latest great art movement of the twentieth century’.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Narripi Worm Dreaming, ADG:845, 1997, 125 x 96cm.

The Symbol As a Language

Since Aborigines didn’t have a history of writing, they have a long tradition of communicating their stories and heritage graphically through symbols. This ancient iconography has transferred into contemporary art works. Often reflecting the spiritual traditions, cultural practices and sociopolitical circumstances of indigenous people, stories and symbols vary widely among the diverse Aboriginal cultures. They range from ones derived from the hunting and tracking background portraying animals and humans with marks they leave or certain clan patterns to aspects of their ‘Dreaming’. The Dreamtime is a translation of the Creation time for Aboriginal people, and it provides their identity and the connection to the land. Artists often need a permission to paint certain traditional stories, and this right is inherited.

Sally Gabori, DulkaWarngiid, 2007, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 195 x 610cm. Collection: National Gallery of Victoria.

The Aboriginal Art Today

Contemporary indigenous artists have won many of Australia’s most prominent art prizes not only reserved for indigenous art. Also, Aboriginal artists have represented Australia in the Venice Biennale in 1990 and 1997. Today, Aboriginal art is internationally acclaimed and recognized as fine art. It ranges across a wide variety of mediums from works on paper and canvas to fiber, glass and printmaking. Rooted in traditional iconography, the works are often remarkably modern in design and color. Some of the most prominent names include Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Kaapa Tjampitjinpa,Emily Kngwarreye, Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Christine Napanangka Michaels, Rover Thomas and Gloria Petyarre. There has been a number of Aboriginal artists, such as Michael CookWilliam King Jungala or his daughter Sarrita King who have developed a very unique contemporary style combining their Aboriginal heritage with practices and techniques closer to the Western contemporary art. Albert Namatjira, one of the pioneers of Contemporary Aboriginal art, produced western style landscapes different to the traditional Aboriginal art style. On the other hand, there is a number of artists who ethnically and culturally identify as indigenous, but have adopted global art practices and recognizably Western style. Labeling them as Aboriginal artists have caused political controversies and raised questions on conventional notions of what Aboriginal art is.

Sarrita King, Ancestors, Jap 010912, Acrylic on Linen, 90 x 60 cm.

Sarrita King, Water, Jap-008727, Acrylic on Linen, 230 x 140 cm.

Labels and Controversies

It has been widely discussed whether the indigenous art has been commodified by the West and the commercial art world. It has been even suggested that using terms as ‘Aboriginal art’ is intrinsically racist in terms of labeling Aboriginality as ‘other’ compared to the Western norm.  Many contemporary artists who happen to be of Aboriginal descent refuse to be categorized and labeled simply for their ethnicity. This issue has gained great publicity when in 1990s Australia’s most renowned international artist Tracey Moffatt refused to present at the exhibition exclusively Aboriginal, and more recently when acclaimed contemporary artist Richard Bell was awarded the National Aboriginal & Torre Strait Islander Art Award in 2003. It seems that it might be the time that the Western community develops a more sophisticated understanding of the diversity of artists of indigenous descent.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Bush Yam Dreaming, 1994, inscribed verso: #551, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 183.0 x 122.0 cm.

Aboriginal Art in the Art Market

In 2007, the painting Earth’s Creation by Emily Kngwarreye became the first Aboriginal artwork sold for more than $ 1 million. Her use of dots reaches its crescendo in this phase, with dots merging, separating and dominating in various configurations. They fuse together to create planes of colour structured into mobile shapes, or are choreographed to form lines that suggest dance movements. In earlier works they are used to form fine veils that shield secret markings or create shimmering effects reminiscent of the cosmos. Emily’s palette was largely determined by the changing seasons. Dusty browns appear in her canvases during the dry season, and greens appear after the rains, which Emily referred to as ‘green time’. When wildflowers carpeted the desert, she used a spectrum of yellows. The visual intensity of these paintings recalls the work of French colourists Sonia and Robert Delaunay, or even Claude Monet. Yet Emily knew nothing of their work and, while these French modernists explored pure colour as form and subject, Emily’s only subject throughout her life was her ancestral home of Alhalkere. Emily’s “green-time” canvases attest to an unshakable connection between body and country, one that evades iconography yet demands to be felt.

Only a few months after, an epic work Warlugulong by Clifford Possum was sold for $ 2.4 million in Sotheby’s auction in Melbourne. After the initial boom, the market for these works started to struggle due to the issues with authenticity, ownership, exploitation and Australia’s cultural heritage regulation. On the other hand, the first ever sale of Aboriginal art at Sotheby’s London in June 2015 was a huge success showing a sign of renewed interest in this movement. When choosing a piece, the great importance should be placed on the style, medium, status of the artist and age of the artist. With five works being sold for over $100,000, the auction brought in over $ 2 million for 75 lots. As the price of the pieces is rising again, buying Aboriginal art could be a wise investment.

Thierry B Fine Art proudly offers Aboriginal art and may be viewed in our gallery stockroom. Gallery hours are: Monday – Saturday 11am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm, or by appointment on : +613404861438.

Vicki xx

The Finkelstein Files: Indigenous Instyle

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Lily Kelly Napangardi is a highly esteemed artist recognized for her contribution to contemporary aboriginal artwork. With a talent for intricate detail, Lily has captivated audiences with her interpretations of the shifting seasons and changing country.

Napangardi  was born around 1948, is a senior law woman of the Watiyawanu community, Haasts Bluff and is from Mount Liebig. Lily moved to Papunya in the 1960’s. She began painting in the 1980’s. Her ‘Tali -Sandhills’ paintings are finely constructed of a series of fine dots and dashes, their fasinating structure builds to a wonderfully detailed topography of her land. Lily Kelly Napangardi holds the authority over the “Women Dreaming ” story associated with Kunajarrayi. Lily’s paintings depict her country’s sandhills, the winds and the desert environment after rain, especially the sandhills near the Kintore area.In January 2006, Lily Kelly Napangardi was included as one of Australia’s 50 most collectable artists by the prestigious Australian Art Collector magazine.

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Lilly Kelly Napangardi was born at Haasts Bluff in the Northern Territory around 1948. She moved to the newly established settlement of Papunya in the 1960s. During her time in Papunya, Lilly engaged in painting activities, notably assisting with works by her husband Norman Kelly in the early 1980s. Lilly is one of the senior Law Women of the community, teaching the younger women traditional dancing and singing. Her language is Luritja. Lilly is a respected senior law woman of the community imparting knowledge of traditional songs and dancing to the younger generation.

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Lilly began painting in the early 1980s, winning the Northern Territory Art Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Painting in 1986. Lilly’s hypnotic ‘Sand Hills’ paintings are made up of fine dots and dashes, their muted tones building up a mysterious, hidden topography of her land.

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These paintings portray the depiction of the “Tali”, sand hills located near her homelands. The microscopic dots show the impact of the rain and the wind as it moves across the countryside. This story was passed to her by her father and the sand hills (Tali) are a site of significance for the artist and her family.

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Lilly is a highly collectable artist with a strong following: she is represented in major national and international collections.

Selected exhibitions:
1999 Desert Mob Show, Alice Springs
2000 Graham Marshall Gallery, Adelaide
2001 Desert Mob Show, Alice Springs;
2002 Desert Mob Show, Alice Springs.
2002 Telstra Awards;
2003 Telstra Awards
2003 Neil Murphy Indigenous Art showing at Mary Place Gallery, Sydney
2003 Graham Marshall Gallery, Adelaide;
2003 Telstra Awards; 2003 Neil Murphy Indigenous Art Span Galleries, Melbourne;
2003 Desert Mob Show, Alice Springs;
2004 Neil Murphy Indigenous Art showing at Span Galleries, Melbourne,
2004 Mary Place Gallery, Sydney
2004 Graham Marshall Gallery, Adelaide.

Awards:
Winner, 1986 Northern Territory Art Award
Winner, 2003 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award

Collections:
National Gallery of Queensland Brisbane
The Kerry Stokes Collection, Australia;
National Gallery of Australia Canberra;
Art Gallery of New South Wales – Sydney;
Art Gallery of South Australia – Adelaide;
National Gallery of Victoria – Melbourne;
Holmes A Court Collection Perth;
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Darwin;
Art bank Sydney;
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA;
Thomas Vroom Collection, Amsterdam;
James Erskine Collection;
Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2003;
corporate and private collections around the world.

Thierry B Fine Art is excited to offer a new range into the gallery of Lilly’s work for both the discerning and burgeoning art collector.  Gallery hours are: Monday – Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 12-pm or by appointment on 0404 861 438.

Vicki xx

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The Finkelstein Files: Age of Reko’ning

Fitzroy-based Reko Rennie is a profilic artist whose bold, graphic work across a variety of mediums explores his indigenous heritage and association to the Kamilaroi people.  Reko uses traditional geometric patterning that represents his community – in particular the repeating diamond shape, which he describes as a sort of ‘family crest’ for the Kamilaroi people.  Alongside this distictive emblem, Reko often employs a recurring crown motif – a symbol of sovereignty, a nod to American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a reference to Reko’s own roots in street art.

RekoRennie(RodneyDekker)Above: Portrait of Reko Rennie by Rodney Dekker. |Courtesy and ©: The artist.

What is interesting about Reko is how incredibly versatile he is.  From paintings on canvas and board, to large scale public murals and even sculpture, Reko seems to steadfastly avoid ever being pigeonholed in just one category.  The common thread throughout all his work, however, is a continual exploration of aboriginal identity in a contemporary context:

“It was New York graffiti that attracted me and provided me with the medium to first express myself. From there, I started looking at the diamond geometric iconography of the Kamilaroi people and in a western-sense the diamond shape I use through my work is a lot like a family crest – the diamond is my family crest.

The path to becoming an artist was never something laid out for me. There was no progression from school to study art and then full-time art. I had a range of jobs, many different experiences and did graffiti. I had never wanted to go to art school when I was younger, as I thought I could paint and draw so perhaps it was better to learn something else. So I studied journalism, worked as a journalist to pay the bills and painted in my spare time. There were many times I would create all night and then roll into work at The Age. I soon realised where my passion was and that was when I decided to do art full-time.

There are many things that lead me to create the work I do; from my family history, my passion for making and at other times I may simply want to say something or provoke thought.”

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Last may, his monumental mural Trust the 2%ers opened the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art’s, while in September La Trobe University unveiled four architectural totem poles designed by Rennie to herald its new molecular science institute, the first sculptural commission the university has undertaken since the 1980s. ”There’s a level of self-investigation in Reko’s work in that he’s trying to find a place for himself in an urban environment as an Aboriginal man and he doesn’t profess to have the answers,” says La Trobe’s museum curator Vincent Alessi. ”I think he strikes that balance really well and his work is generally quite striking and has this magnetism.’

reko-2%Above: Reko Rennie, Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gummaroi peoples, Australia b.1974 | Trust the 2% 2013 | Synthetic polymer paint on wall; synthetic polymer paint on MDF | Site-specific commission for ‘My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia’ | Courtesy and ©: The artist.

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I first became aware of Reko’s work after seeing ‘Always was, Always will be’, his large scale mural on the exterior of the T2 building in Taylor Square, Sydney, Australia (pictured above). This amazing work was commissioned as part of the City of Sydney’s Streetware program for 2012, and again employs Reko’s distinctive geometric diamonds, referencing the traditional markings of the Kamilaroi people.  The transformation of the facade was undertaken by Reko in collaboration with Cracknell & Lonergan architects.  – breathtaking!

reko-venice 1Above: Until November, Reko’s latest Regalia, is an installation at Personal Structures: Crossing Borders, a collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale presented by blackartprojects at Palazzo Mora in Venice and supported by Urban Art Projects.

Curated by the Global Art Affairs Foundation, the exhibition draws together established and emerging artists from across the globe whose work responds to the concepts of time, space and existence.

Take a look at Reko’s AUSiMED art work we are very proudly presenting!

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