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

A changing tableau of lines.

PicMonkey CollageAUSiMED Lot # 18, Windadryne, 2006 by Julie Dowling.

“In recent years Julie Dowling has emerged as one of Australia’s most sought after and accomplished painters, and a leading light of the contemporary Indigenous art movement. The subjects of her paintings deal with the Aboriginal identity and the Indigenous perspective of Australian history as reflected in the experiences of her ancestors, her family and her people over time. Thus the emphasis on portraiture in her work; both of individuals and of groups of people where Dowling consciously merges her European-style training with Indigenous concepts of picture making. References to classical Western art, Renaissance art, the Dutch masters and Caravaggio permeate her work. Dowling’s art is at once intimately personal and universally resonant.” Michael Reid, leading Australian art market commentator, art educator, art dealer and consultant.

ABC has filmed this incredible insight into one of this generations most important artists, Julie Dowling – please view it here.

Dowling-Collage

Her art is more than political, more than portraiture, and more than successful. Judith McGrath compiled this profile on Australian Art Collector’s most collectable artist 2002.

fencer-pic-Collage

Also known by her Aboriginal name Yulyurlu, Warlpiri artist Lorna Fencer Napurrula was born in the 1920s at Yumurrpa in the Tanami Desert, which is an important Yam Dreaming site — the yam being a food staple for desert people that also has important spiritual significance. She relocated to Lajamanu on the northern fringe of the Tanami Desert in her fifties (c.1975) and began to paint in 1986 as part of a course offered at Lajamanu School (and a commitment by the community to adopt acrylic painting and nurture a painting movement).

FENCER-CollageAUSiMED Lot #70, Coroborree at Yurmarlpu, 2005 by Lorna Fencer Napurrula.

Napurrula’s earliest works were in the traditional central desert style, which often involved a set of stylised symbols, marks and icons set among fields of dots. These works were rich in narrative, particularly those related to Yam Dreaming stories (elements of Rain and Snake Dreaming themes can also be found in her work).

Napurrula soon began individualising her style, freeing it from what was expected of Warlpiri artists. While familiar symbols (such as boomerangs and Yam root structures) continued to appear, Napurrula began applying them more intuitively, often laying motif over motif with a bold mix of colour to create works of textured beauty that evoked feeling while also paying tribute to ancestral stories. Her work as evokes “bodies of feeling”, Napurrula’s distinctive style (most evident in works post-1995) is one that, “employs ‘icons’ in looser terms than the earlier more exacting forms of iconography found in the works of other Warlpiri women”. Art Review 

fencer-CollageAUSiMED Lot #13, Yarla – Bush Potato,  2005.

While Napurrula exhibited widely from the mid-90s until her death (with at least twenty solo shows and more than sixty group exhibitions) and is well represented in major collectionsthe first significant survey of her work only took place last year. It saw more than sixty paintings on paper and canvas, prints and three-dimensional works visit seven galleries and six states.

FENCER-Collage

FENCER-CollageAUSiMED Lot #12, Yumurlpa, The Spring, 2005 by Lorna Fencer.