Paintings from Central Australia
Sep 2008 -
Contemporary Western Desert painting began in 1971, when senior men at Papunya, a settlement 300 kilometres west of Alice Springs, began using European art materials to record their traditional knowledge. During the 1980s, a new community called Utopia, north-east of Alice Springs, gained prominence with bright, bold batik and canvas paintings. Ever since, the focus of the movement has shifted between the strongholds of the 'westside' (to the west of Alice Springs) and the Anmetyerre and Alyawarre lands on the 'eastside'.
Eastern Desert painters have adapted their dotting technique to transmit an almost pointillist, aerial view of country, and to illustrate a surface layer (plants, flowers and produce) which sits on top of the land and represents the 'everything' — all that is spiritually, physically and metaphysically embedded within country, on the surface and subterranean. Western Desert technique introduced dotting as a veil to obscure secret information within paintings, and has since evolved into the basic element for 'building up' a painting's imagery. The stylistic differences and individual idiosyncrasies found in the art from each region highlight the great diversity of these vibrant cultures and peoples.