Prior to 2008 no Aboriginal indigenous art painting had sold for more than $800,000. Then in May 2008 Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Earth Creation fetched $1.056 million at auction. From there records continued to be made and Aboriginal Art has now gained immense popularity in Europe and the US. However art investors can still buy Australian indigenous art and find collectable artists in the $5,000 – $10,000 range from reputable online galleries such as Art to Art.
According to Aboriginal belief, all life – Human, Animal, Bird and Fish is part of one vast unchanging network of relationships which can be traced to the Great Spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime.
Each artist has a Dreamtime custodianship which maps the Australian continent, connecting Aboriginal people to each other and to the land. All Aboriginal paintings have an underlying narrative based on mythological creation stories referred to as Dreaming’s (or a Dreaming in the singular). Yam Dreaming, Possum Dreaming, Rain Dreaming, and Fire Dreaming are all stories that describe how things came to be as they are today at specific places in the landscape.
“This is the significance of Aboriginal paintings they are, each and every one, an act of storytelling, which renews the world and reaffirms the power of traditional culture.” – Paddy Carroll Tjungurrayi
Early works were mostly done by men (but also some women), and used traditional symbols such as concentric circles, animal tracks and heavy dotted forms. Then by the 1990s, women such as Kngwarreye broke away from this stylistic precedent with bold acrylic paintings that forever broadening the definition of Aboriginal painting.
Acrylic paintings serve as a new form to tell the story of Aboriginal life. They represent a new context of interaction between indigenous and western societies. Through modern art the Aboriginal people are able to introduce and express their culture to the world.
Kudditji Kngwarreye (pronounced Kubbitji) is the brother of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye. As an Anmatyerre Elder and custodian of many important Dreaming stories, his paintings accentuate the colour and form of the earth, landscape, sky and summer heat of his country and show the iconography of his ancestral totem, the Emu and emu waterholes and male ceremonial sites. In January 2007, Kudditji was included in the list of Australia’s 50 most collectible artists and declared one of the top 10 most collectible Aboriginal artists, based on future price growth potential.
Minnie Pwerle is one of Australia’s best known Indigenous artists. Her commercial art career began in her late 80’s (only ten years before her death), when she began painting bold and deeply mesmerising depictions of her Bush Melon Dreaming. She uses circular shapes to symbolise bush melon, bush tomato, northern wild orange and other bushfood. Another body of work uses free-flowing and parallel lines in a pendulous outline to depict the body painting designs used in women’s ceremonies. Minnie’s art is displayed in many public collections at National and State Art Galleries across Australia and formed the basis for a series of designer rugs.
Both Kudditji Kngwarreye and Minnie Pwerle have substantial bodies of collectable works. These are other collectable works by Indigenous artists are now available from online galleries like Art to Art.
“I think they [the Australian aborigines] are more appreciative of people learning about their culture through the artwork.” Franchesca Cubillo, Curator Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, Australia.
Ultimately art is to be enjoyed and appreciated. You can buy Australian indigenous art for that purpose or you collect indigenous art as an investment. Start with one piece that you love and go from there.
- Australian Aboriginal Art (chubbs131.wordpress.com)