Arts et Savoirs Aborigènes
Aboriginal Arts and Knowledge
Texts by Georges Petitjean e Lisa Slade
Fondation Opale in conjunction with 5 Continents Editions launches a series of monographs dedicated to foremost important Indigenous Australian artists and/or artworks. The first of these monographs is dedicated to two major large collaborative canvases by male and female artists of the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands and the Kulata Tjuta installation by artists of that same region.
Produced in 2018, the sumptuous paintings, as is the Kulata Tjuta Kupi Kupi installation, are collaborative artworks. They are reminiscent of the collaborative production process of art in Aboriginal Australia. These major works, in which a variety of “Dreaming Stories” that define the region converge, form cornerstones of the collection that lies at the heart of the Fondation Opale. The Fondation, and its founder and driving force Bérengère Primat, has a particularly strong and active relationship with the art centers and the artists of that region of Australia. Several journeys were made to the APY lands in Central Australia. Both paintings, to which respectively several senior women and men collaborated, were commissioned by Bérengère Primat and the painting process abundantly documented. These magisterial paintings are testimony to the continuum of culture and intimate knowledge of the land through art.
Kupi Kupi, an iteration of the ongoing Kulata Tjuta (many spears in the Pitjantjatjara language) initiated in 2010, is a contemporary and monumental art installation consisting of 1500 spears. It is a metaphor for contemporary Anangu society and the unpredictable direction in which it is moving.
Gay’wu is a container for knowledge. Gay’wu, in the Yolngu language of northeast Arnhem Land, means ‘dillybag’, a small fibre-woven carrying bag. It is said that Gay’wu contains knowledge and wisdom.
All these artworks are testimony to the renewal and relevancy of Aboriginal art in contemporary times.
This series of monographs presents portraits of remarkable Indigenous Australian artists and their artworks. It is through their artworks that their wisdom is conveyed and a glimpse into their culture is offered.
Georges Petitjean is an art historian and obtained his Ph.D. with research on the art of the Western Australian Desert. His main field of research is the transformation of primordial Aboriginal art into contemporary art. He was curator of the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art (AAMU) in Utrecht from 2005 to 2017. Since then, Georges Petitjean has been curator at Collection Bérengère Primat, one of the leading collections of Aboriginal art in the world.
Lisa Slade is assistant director for art programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Her recent curatorial projects include Kulata Tjuta at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, France; Quilty, a traveling exhibition of the work of Australian artist Ben Quilty; John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, as well as curator in 2016 in Adelaide of the Australian Art Biennale