Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another Age

It’s Australian Aboriginal art.  Yes, in appearance it looks to be extremely modern.  But to the contrary these paintings house some of the best kept secrets amongst Australia’s Aboriginals – one of the oldest continuing cultures. 

You have to excuse me, but this wasn’t what I was expecting when I received the invite to the unveiling of SAMs latest exhibition.  Traditional dress and native sculptures, perhaps.  Similar characteristics to my native land of Nigeria.  But not this.  Upon entering I thought we’d walked into the wrong room.  Ignorance is bliss isn’t it? 

Much to my surprise, I had just penetrated Australia’s Eastern borders according to the positioning of the paintings.  The aborigines’ art is a symbolic representation of their country.  It’s spiritually based and is a reflection of native customs and traditions.  A rare perspective to the Western world, and one we’ll forever fail to decipher without assistance.  These aren’t works you pompously seek to interpret based on the artists use of color and or acrylic verses oil paint, (although at times those are target indicators).  Each of these works illustrate a clear message, one embedded in the culture of these people. 

There once was a time when the aborigines' of Australia strictly limited their art to ceremonial purposes alone.  But after becoming legally recognized as Australian citizens in the 1970s, the aborigines' began sharing their art, one could assume as a righteous attempt to regain the empowerment they had lost.   

As you traveled through the exhibition space, you ventured through Australia from East to the West.  Each room signified a different concept - concept is too vague a word, belief is more appropriate - and within those beliefs were varying stories and traditions all uniquely created and showcased.  “Traditional art” as we know it doesn’t exist amidst the Aboriginals, only life and creation, and they inevitably build from that alone.  Their reliance and humility towards their land is emphasized in their works through texture: the roughness of the bark canvases, the almost roped brush strokes, the intricate, embossed like, dotted surfaces.  It’s supposed to feel as it is, because it is, if that makes any sense?

I made a friend, Jaime.  The gentleman in the second to last picture.  He flew to Seattle from Australia with his family for the exhibition to present his Grandfathers work, the other gentleman in the very last picture.  Do you see the resemblance?  What a cool kid that Jaime, and uber stylish. 

I had a bloody swell time experiencing this exhibition.  Taught me a thing or two.  Art comes in all forms, and sometimes the word "art" doesn’t begin to properly quantify something as riche as life and creation.

Thank you to everyone at the Seattle Art Musuem for having me!  I had a phenomenal time.   
View more about the collection HERE or visit the Seattle Art Museum, its more than worth a once over.


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