WALKABOUT The early art of the Australian Aborigines

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The exhibition “WALKABOUT – The early art of the Australian Aborigines” at Galerie Meyer – Oceanic Art will offer some 200 pieces from three private European collections.

The inauguration will take place during the opening of PARCOURS des MONDES – the worldʼs most important Tribal Art fair which takes place in the galleries of Saint Germain-des-Prés every September in Paris.

Early Aboriginal Works-of-Art are of an absolute Minimalism – their form is reduced to the necessity of their function – and they are often multifunctional. The extreme simplicity of shape is enhanced with an incised and/or painted decor which is almost exclusively geometric representing highly stylized human and animal forms.

As most of the tribes or language groups are nomadic, they cannot deal with large quantities of ceremonial or functional belongings – thus over the millennia the Aborigines have “Condensed to the Maximum” their art, retaining only the bare essentials needed to sustain their physical and spiritual lives.

Their spiritual world is contained and concentrated in their very selves and is represented in ephemeral sand drawings, on bark paintings and in rock art. The inspiration is drawn from a “Dreamtime” in which the initiated men source religious knowledge and communicate with their ancestors and the spirits through dreams.

Made of wood, stone, shell, and all manner of animal and vegetable materials, the boomerangs, spear-
throwers, bull-roarers, shields, spears and adornments are of a disconcerting simplicity – far removed from the baroque sculptural works-of-art from the other areas of the Pacific.

Aboriginal Art is an art of Design – it is an art of perfection. For those who can see beyond the apparent simplicity, there is remarkable beauty to be found not only in the pure form but in the treatment of surfaces and in the refined and elaborate incised and painted decorations.

These beautiful works of art were recognized and sought after by the artists of the 20th century such as Sir Jacob Epstein, Karel Kupka, André Breton, Tony Tuckson, and Klaus Rinke to name but a few. Through the eyes of these collectors the Early Art of the Australian Aborigines has gone from being but simple tools and weapons to an art equal to that of the Modern and Classical world.

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