Australia is a land rooted in indigenous culture for over 800 centuries. Proving this history are mesmerising indigenous art on rocks, caves and stones. Many Australian artists still follow the traditional art forms, while the coming-of-age artists have developed modern styles inspired by the creations of indigenous people. They created artwork in the form of paintings, sculptures, crafts and textiles using natural clay pigments to depict various narratives of their lives and nature. As they did not have well-structured languages, they communicated their thoughts and observations through icons and symbols prevalent at that time. Aboriginal art collectors find deep meaning and the powerful stories they communicate. Over the years, some of the best aboriginal works auctioned at overwhelming prices from 400,000 AUD to 2,400,000 AUD. Residents can find authentic pieces to study and purchase for their homes and offices from well-known art galleries from around the country.
Types of Indigenous Australian Art
While there are numerous forms of artworks seen in the indigenous culture, depending on their styles, subject matter, materials and inspirations, they can be divided into ancient aboriginal art practices and modern aboriginal art practices. For thousands of years, artists have told the stories of their divine connections with nature, humans and other emotions through symbols and icons. Some ancient indigenous art practices include rock art, Bradshaw art, X-ray art, Wandjina, string art, dot painting, bark painting, rock engravings, weaving etc.
Modern aboriginal art interpretations follow these new practices.
Cross-hatching, popularly known as Rarrk is a particular style of aboriginal painting commonly available in the Arnhem Land of Northern Australia. Traditionally, artists created cross-hatch paintings on cured and dried bark. However, modern aboriginal artists utilise acrylic colours to paint on their canvases. One can identify the uniqueness of cross-hatch paintings through their close parallel lines overlapping another set of parallel lines crossing over them. They also use advanced techniques to create the appearance of a design being woven into a painting. These paintings generally represent the mighty sea creatures, reptiles and numerous other animals. They also hold a spiritual value.
Bush medicine paintings are captivating through their unique brush strokes and synchronised designs of the bush medicine leaves. Gloria Petyarre was one of the earliest artists who popularised this form of Australian Aboriginal painting through pieces like Bush Medicine Dreaming, paying homage to the bush medicine plant. Bush medicinal plant is a healing plant whose leaves have medicinal powers. Australian indigenous women collect and store them for restoration and healing purposes. Artists mimick the undulating rhythm and the flowing motion of the leaves using a range of brush strokes and colours to depict its properties beautifully.
Australian aboriginal people created outlines using circles and dots on the sand to depict their storey thousands of years ago. Due to the fear of non-indigenous people harming them or stealing their secrets, many indigenous people used double-dotted imagery to disguise their secret knowledge, sacred designs and meanings. They did so to ensure that only their tribes can identify the patterns. Early paintings represent spiritual ceremonies and ritual objects. With the revival of aboriginal art in the 1970s, artists from the Papunya. Tula School of Painters transferred this style onto the canvas. While they intended to represent the culture of their home country. They became so popular that collectors bought several paintings in auctions and galleries.
Colour field paintings characteristically have large fields of flat colour rather than relics and figurines. Kudditji Kngwarreye first adopted this style in 1993 and experienced a backlash from the Aboriginal art world. Today, abstract artists embrace this form of painting to depict the stories they want to share.