Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Art Gallery of South Australia: Part Four

In this final post from the Art Gallery of South Australia, I thought I'd get a little more modern.
Flora (1970) by Barbara Hanrahan
Barbara Hanrahan was an artist, printmaker and writer whose work mostly revolved around the roles of and relationships between women. Between 1957 and 1960 she studied towards a diploma in art teaching from Adelaide Teachers' College, while also taking classes at the South Australian School of Arts. In 1961, she won the Cornell Prize for painting. From 1963 to the early 1980s she lived mainly in England, first studying at the Central School of Art, London and then lecturing at the Falmouth and Portsmouth Colleges of Art, before returning to Adelaide to live until her death in 1992.

I love this hypnotic print which looks like an illustration from an avant-garde children's tale. It seems to swirl and throb with vibrancy and colour.

Milngiyawuy/ Milky Way (2004) by Naminapu Maymuru-White
Detail from Milngiyawuy
Naminapu Maymuru-White is from North East Arnhem Land in the Northern territories. She began helping her fathers Narritjin and Nanyin paint their bark paintings and sculptures in their bark shelter on the beach at Yirrkala in about 1964 when she was twelve years old.

This work of natural pigments on bark is fairly self explanatory and incredibly relaxing to gaze upon. Just like the night sky it imbues the viewer with a curious sense of calm, connection and insignificance.

Milmilngkan (2008) by John Mawurndjul
John Mawurndjul was born and lives in the region close to the Mann River in central Arnhem Land, which is an important site for the Kuninjku people. Considered one of Australia’s leading bark painters, Mawurndjul began painting in the 1970s under instruction from his elder brother and renowned artist Jimmy Njiminjuma.

Milmilngkan relates to a major ancestral site for Kuninjku people. Mawurndjul has developed a sophisticated and very fine form of the traditional rarrk (cross-hatching) which has its origins in ceremonial body painting designs. The surface of this work has a shimmering intensity that evokes both the powers of the ancestor and the reflective moving surface water of the sacred billabong. This is an excellent example of an important development in Mawurndjul’s painting, showing an increasing move towards what may be read by Western audiences as abstraction.

In an interesting exercise to persuade patrons to engage with the gallery, an on-line competition was held in which viewers were asked to vote for their favourite art-works from the archives, which would then be displayed. Here are some of them.

Dry Grass Landscape (1986) by William Robinson
The perspective on this painting is intriguing. From some angles you appear to be looking down, like the birds flying above the river, whereas the next minute you find yourself at the bottom of the tall trees looking up into the clouds. It's disconcerting, but then so is extreme heat and drought.

Ngatijirri (Budgerigar) Dreaming (1987) by Billy Stockman Tjapltjarri
This acrylic painting represents the travels of the Budgerigar ancestors during the Dreaming. On their journey, the ancestors stop to camp in sandhill country around Ilpitirri, near Mount Denison. The camps are depicted as concentric circles superimposed on a background mosaic of sand dunes, broken by patches of desert plants.

Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri (c1927-), a founder of the Papunya painting movement, is from the Anmatyerr language group. He was born at Ilpitirri near Mount Denison, north-west of Yuendumu. The Papunya artists explain that their paintings come from the Dreaming. Like the natural features that mark out the journeys of ancestral beings and the ceremonies that re-enact these journeys, the paintings are both part of the Dreaming and part of the physical world.

By painting the designs and stories that represent their particular Dreaming places, the artists assert their rights and obligations as Central and Western Desert landowners, entrusted with the ritual re-enactment of the events that occurred at these sites. As part of these ceremonies, elaborate ground paintings are constructed using a symbolic language of U shapes, concentric circles, journey lines, and bird and animal tracks. This unique visual language is also used in designs painted on the skin, and is the same language made familiar by the Papunya painters.

Owl Vase (circa 1910) – Ernst Wahliss Porzellanhaus
I just love this fellow - he's so gloriously ugly. I also like his mischievous wink and reckon if he were in my house, I'd laugh every time I looked at him. He certainly looks as though he knows exactly what you've been up to, but he'll keep your secrets for you! 

1 comment:

Carole said...

Kate, I do love almost every one of these works. Fantastic. Have you been to the new gallery in Hobart? I have been reading a bit about it and am thinking of making a trip to see it. Have a good week.