Australian Indigenous Art Guide for Beginners

Australian indigenous art is widely regarded both in Australia and internationally as a body of work significant in the history of art. Indigenous art holds a direct association to the land and the ‘Dreaming’ of the artist. Each painting is a ritual storytelling about a journey, place, animal, food, season, initiation or event.

Indigenous art


There is a succinct history of Australian Indigenous art on the Australian government website at

The National Gallery of Australia is another valuable source of information. The NGA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection comprises over 7500 works and is the largest in the world.

The most recent indigenous paintings to excite the world have come from the Utopian region of Australia, a remote area 240 kms north east of Alice Springs that is home to around 2,000 aboriginal people. The people here speak very little English and there are minimal road signs, which make accessing the region difficult for tourists, but also add to its allure.

In the late 1980’s the aboriginal people of Utopia started to use acrylic paint on canvas with incredible results. It is from Utopia that famous indigenous artists such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye and her brother Kudditji Kngwarreye produced their distinctive works.

Australian indigenous art


Utopia is renowned for the female artist community which continues to thrive through a network of dealers and representatives. Artists such as Gloria Petyarre, Jeannie Petyarre, Barbara Weir, Minnie Pwerle, Angeline Pwerle, Lenea Pwele and Evelyn Pultara produce works of art bursting with colour, creativity and contemporary genius.

The male artists of Utopia tend to paint with more traditional styles depicting their Dreaming with earthier tones and striking structured works. The works of Tommy Jones Kngwarrey, Clifford Tilmouth Pungarta, and Cowboy Louis Pwerle have a masculine appeal and can be found in National Galleries across Australia.

The works of aboriginal and Utopian artists have travelled the world in exhibitions that have gained overwhelming acclaim from noted art critics and historians, here is a sample:

“It was important to me that the work be hung along with your Jackson Pollocks and your Andy Warhols, there is no difference.” John Weber, John Weber Gallery, Soho, New York.

“I was moved not only by the remarkable images and the design of the paintings, but also by the astonishing density and complexity of their meanings.” Andrea Pekarik, Director, The Asia Society Galleries, New York 1988

“No contemporary painting from the Western tradition is able to communicate to us in such a straightforward way a message that is so universal.” Professor Maurizio Calvesi, Time Magazine July 1990.

Indigenous artwork


Today there are over 250 professional artists in the Utopian region who continue to produce works which astound with diverse cultural richness.

The astute art collector can access Utopian works to suit their budget from an online art gallery such as Art to Art. Here you can conveniently compare a range of indigenous art sorting by artist or by price range. You can also read about the artist and a description of the work. Every Australian Indigenous art work is sold with a Certificate of Authenticity and in most cases a photograph of the artist painting the actual work is also available.


The Artwork for Sale – Modern Artwork of Your Life

When you discover new artwork for sale by an artist you have always admired it can be very exciting. Many artists now have their own websites to sell their artwork online in Australia. Keeping an eye on what is new is time consuming unless you know where to go. An online art gallery is a perfect resource for keeping up with trends and the new works of established and emerging artists.



Modern trends in the art world are known to change every five years or so. In 2014 art trends on the rise are predicted to be pop up projects, artworks expressing sustainability and ecological issues, superfiction art (where fragmented narrative meets visual art) and the merging of painting and sculpture. If this is latest trend is the case then this well-known quote by Czech born British playwrite Tom Stoppard “It is not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall it’s a painting, and if you can walk around it it’s a sculpture” will no longer be accurate.

Online art gallery Art to Art plays host to Australia’s most exciting and confident new artists. These talented minds explore mediums, push boundaries and create pieces that are uniquely refreshing. A visit to the Art to Art web store is a refreshing delight, like following Alice down an art lined rabbit hole.

The best art collections have always been a fusion of old and new, but as we head towards 2020 ‘new’ is entirely different. Art to Art curator Philippa Demase recently explored MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania and said, “MONA left me speechless, this truly is one of the most sensational experiences I have had and I cannot recommended it enough.”



The nature of the artist is to be exploring the question “what if?” and then pushing creative boundaries until something fabulous occurs. A visit to Melbourne for the end of year graduate exhibitions held at the Victorian College of the Arts, Monash and RMIT is an excellent place to spot new art trends.

Sometimes pushing for something new results in a re-interpretation of what is old. The former Head of Painting at Victoria College of the Arts, Victor Majzner is one of Australia’s most prominent painters. His 2012 exhibition drew on 3000 years of Jewish ideas to interpret sound and song, thoughts and words into striking and sometimes erotic visual forms expressed majestically as oil on canvas.

Advances in technology are also allowing new forms of print reproduction. Giclée is a type of digital fine-art print where the original image is scanned on a drum scanner then reproduced typically using inkjet printing, therefore capturing all the tonalities and hues of the original painting. This is taking limited edition prints to a whole new level. Read more here

Rising Tide


Another trend is the use of trompe l’oeil (tricking the eye) where art is not always what it seems. In this way digital art is pushing boundaries in photography techniques. The botanical photography of Melbourne’s Carmel Louise is bold, beautiful and emotive. Carmel uses a technique of “deconstructed photography” to create mesmerising new image patterns that cannot be predetermined from the original object.

Jackson Pollock, the famous abstract expressionist sums up modern art and indeed modern art buying when he said, “The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.”

The strangeness of looking for artwork for sale online is wearing off and becoming a normal way to buy modern artwork online in Australia.

What Type of Paintings Sells in Australia?

When looking for paintings for sale in Australia it is important to be able to identify a quality painting, for sale from a gallery with a strong reputation, who understands the art market and what determines the value of a painting.


The art market has a global turnover of $50-60 billion dollars a year. The ‘primary art market’ consists of new art entering the market for the first time. Most contemporary art enters the primary market where value is speculative in nature. Art that has been sold at least once before forms the ‘secondary art market’. Obviously the primary market price of a work can affect its secondary market value.

Works from the same artist can vary in value due to size, condition and quality or the time at which the work was produced. Subject matter, medium and rarity also affect market demand. Some works can become historically meaningful over time and therefore of more value to museums and collectors.

Historically is it has been the ‘charismatic’ power of artworks (what draws people to want to possess them) that has driven value. ‘Art as a Financial Investment’ by RAJ Campbell, states that there are non-economic value measures such as “Do I like it?” or “Does it speak to me?” that have an economic effect because they become deciding factors in the purchase.

Generally contemporary art is valued by three aspects: Scale (size and level of detail), Intensity (effort) and Medium (quality of materials). Charismatic value can then add to the end market price.

Here are 7 Tips for Art Collecting in Australia:

1. Be inspired

Choose art that excites and inspires you rather than what is fashionable. Then you will enjoy your purchase while its value appreciates.


2. Consider the Provenance

Provenance is insight into the history of an artwork. This includes the date produced, subject matter, authenticity (including signature, title and paperwork) and legitimacy of the artist. It is wise to research the artist, their career and achievements, and their whole body of work.

3. Diversify your collection

You can balance out market fluctuations and spread your risk by building a collection of many artists and works that span different historical times.

4. Ensure Authenticity

A Certificate of Authenticity should be provided with your purchase and ensures its provenance (as mentioned above) for reassurance and insurance. Sometimes there will be a photo of the artist producing the actual work. Correct documentation and provenance increases collectability, desirability and market value.

5. Look for Quality

Paintings, prints and other works must be clearly hand-signed by the artist. For limited edition prints ensure the print is numbered and/or titled. The lower the total number of prints produced the more value it will have.

6. Avoid Prolificacy

An artist can over produce and that can affect long term value. If you want a piece by a prolific artist for your collection then research the period when the artist did their best work and buy from that period. Or request a one-off commission that has meaning to you. A reputable gallery or agent will be able to arrange a commission for you.

7. Use an agent or gallery

Zebra Crossing

Whether you are looking to buy art for pleasure or as an investment consult with someone who understands the range of paintings for sale in Australia. Online art gallery Art to Art provides a one-on-one service where they discuss your investment goals, likes and dislikes and then recommend investment options. Art to Art has an exciting range of emerging and established artists, limited edition prints, original vintage posters, photographs and paintings for sale.