Every Symbol Tells a StoryAborigine Art symbols are used in different art forms to relate the stories of their history and culture. Aborigine artists use symbols like curved and straight lines, dots and circles which have different meanings depending on their context. In fact dot paintings came about when the Aboriginal people worried that the White man would be able to interpret their sacred and very private knowledge. Circles are believed to represent campsites, straight lines between circles are a depiction of routes traveled between camps, a small ‘u’ represents people sitting, while wavy lines represented water or rain.Aboriginal Culture Recorded in Rock ArtFrom ancient times, Aboriginal culture also produced a genre of aerial landscape art, a bird’s eye view of the desert landscape. Their culture has also been recorded as rock art; and in fact ancient paintings in caves show people dressed for some or other ceremony in body decoration, very similar to what is still used today. Ceremonial aspects of the Aborigine’s life are the inspiration for much of their art.Art by Aborigines includes charcoal drawings, sand art, feathers, stencils, thread-cross strings on poles and carvings. A naturalistic- or figurative style means that the art is recognizable; you can see what is being depicted. Beautiful naturalistic art style is found in rock art across northern Australia, and some of the best areas to see this is the Kakadu and Kimberley areas.A type of this art form is where the internal anatomy of an animal is shown in the painting, known as x-ray art. The x-ray style of Australian Aborigine art was developed thousands of years ago and cave paintings have been found in Arnhem Rock, depicting the outline of the animal with diagrams of the internal organs. This type of art is produced today on bark and paper and made available to tourists.Ancient Art Forms have been Adapted Somewhat to Modern WorldToday, indigenous artists work with modern materials such as canvas and acrylics to create beautiful visual effects of their survival over thousands of years and in challenging conditions. Aboriginal artists, known as The Western Desert painters, have adapted their tribal art forms to the western world, making use of western materials and techniques, but still keeping the subject matter in keeping with stories passed down by tribal ancestors.It was in 1934 that Australian Rex Batterbee, taught Aborigine artist Albert Namatjira Western style water color landscape painting. It became a hugely popular style, and actually sold out at an exhibition in a few Australian cities. With his new found fame with these paintings, Namatjira became the first Aboriginal Australian citizen.There Has been a Resurrection in Aborigine ArtThe highest priced art by an Aborigine was painted by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, and in 2007 ‘Warlugulong’ was sold to the National Gallery of Australia for some $2.4 million dollars. Aboriginal contemporary art has grown in leaps and bounds and today you will find museums dedicated to Aboriginal works of art like the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art found in Utrecht in The Netherlands.The Muse du Quai Branly, Paris also has works by Australian Aborigine artists like Lena Nyadbi, Judy Watson and John Mawurndjul among others. Today, Aboriginal prints on high quality archival paper, are an affordable form of artistic expression and there are etchings as well as other limited edition works by artists in different regions of Australia.
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