Bansie Vasvani: While some historians argue that Aboriginal art does not meet the Western criteria of art as a platform for innovation and self-expression, these paintings, which are filled with traditional abstract Aboriginal iconography denoting nature, spirits, and a way of life that has been passed down for generations, are a wonder.
Whether it is Gulumbu Yunupingu’s “Ganyu (Stars)” (2002) or Nonggirrnga Marawili’s “Lightning and the Rock” (2014), painted with earth pigment on bark, the works vibrate with a lyricism that is endemic to their mark-making process.
For these women artists, who began their artistic practice by assisting their husbands with painting on paper and canvas in camps that were set up by the Australian government in the 1970s to teach the tribesmen the ways of the Western world, art and tribal identity eventually became a full-time practice.
Distinguished by meticulousness and rigor, the blanket of white crosshatches and dots against a brown background in “Ganyu,” and the stream of white diamond formations in Marawili’s bark paintings, are intimations of infinity. The meditative repetitiveness of these symbols, which represent each of their respective communities, emanate organically. More here.