Friday, August 12, 2011

Newest from the Far West Desert

The National Gallery of Victoria's celebrating its sesquicentennial, and the bequest which has brought it many of its treasures, the Felton Bequest, has just brought in a stunning collection of recent art by Far Western Desert Aboriginal artists. The exhibition "Living Water" will show these works for the next year. They're like discovering a new world, again - especially in use of large areas of a single color, unfamiliar colors like blue and turquoise, and almost no dots. Many are totally ravishing.
One work - called "Tjintirtjintir" and painted by eight women - was displayed horizontally, the way all these works are painted, and it was a revelation to see it as it was conceived, without a top or bottom, a new work from each angle. Startling how it rearranges, indeed deprograms, one's sense of how visual meaning is made. It opens up the world anew.
It's hard to articulate just how wonderful it is to be in the presence of these works - the experience I thought I'd be able to offer my students this past semester in lieu of actual Australian experience.

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