CONTINUING CULTURE Exhibition: Opening Friday 13 October

Cyril Whyoulter

Evidence continues to surface that Aboriginal culture is well over 65000 years old. Ancestral story telling that imparts knowledge about identity, law, country, place, and mapping, has been constant throughout this time.

Opening on the 13th October in South Fremantle, Artitja Fine Art’s CONTINUING CULTURE presents paintings that are bold, vibrant portrayals of stories from remote community artists. The painting styles are varied; while some describe ancient narratives others are exquisite renditions of the flora of the land.

The exhibition comprises of thirty seven artists from nine remote art centre communities across Australia, many of whose painting styles express a decidedly contemporary interpretation of story.

“It’s not just the paintings that are diverse in this exhibition” explains curator Anna Kanaris “These art centre communities are spread as far apart as Balgo in the Kimberley to Newman in the Pilbara, Papunya in the western desert and Mimili in northern South Australia in the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) lands -the tri-border states where those language groups traverse South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia”.

The inclusion of the artists from Papunya in the western desert is significant. This community was at the heart of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, which began in the 1970’s and grew quickly to establish itself nationally and gain global recognition.

“Aboriginal art continues to evolve from these early days. Twenty years ago these paintings would not be on the wall at an exhibition; styles change but the stories don’t, and I believe that is a great strength in continuing the culture” says Kanaris. “The body of work in the exhibition is a fine example of creativity and skill in telling stories that is fundamental to Aboriginal culture, at the same time informing the non Aboriginal audience of these ancient legends”.

This exhibition will touch all the senses with its strong aesthetic presence. The tiny dots that make up the floral landscape of the community in Ampilatwatja in the eastern central desert, contrast with the bold, painterly strokes of the Martu artists of the Pilbara. Mimili artist, Marina Warari Brown creates interesting negative spaces within her paintings by deliberately not describing the part of her country she is not painting. The well known painter Helicopter Tjungurrayi from Balgo takes a more traditional approach to his wonderful sand dune paintings.

The exhibition is a showcase of wonder; a contemporary display of paintings from well known, established older artists and excitingly young emerging painters influenced by their peers who aren’t fearful of experimenting with new ways of representing their ancient mythologies.

CONTINUING CULTURE is free to the public opening 6.30pm on the 13th October and will run until the 29th October 2017 open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm exhibiting at Earlywork, 330 South Terrace, South Fremantle.