Friday, July 23, 2010

Aboriginal art has stories to tell

Primitive works reflect Australian desert landscape


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

Patrick Tjungurrayi is a Papunya Tula artist whose work is on exhibition as part of the Art of the Western Desert of Australia at 391 First Ave. North in Ketchum. Courtesy photo

Sun Valley-area residents have connections to the greater world at large, which often offers the community rare educational and learning experiences.

Harvey Art Projects, led by Julie Harvey, is offering such an experience, the landmark exhibit "Art of the Western Desert of Australia." The exhibit—now at the former Anne Reed Gallery in Ketchum—shares the creations of a land far away from Idaho.

"It's an opportunity to bridge the Outback world with our world," Harvey said. "The art is an interpretation of topography and all the work has narratives linked to (the Papunya Aboriginal community in northern Australia)."

The dot-painting technique associated with native Australian art reflects the predominantly orange, red and brown tones of the Australian desert region of Papunya and is a complement to Idaho's high-desert landscape and the summer season.

"There are only a handful of significant collectors for these artists and most are in private collections," Harvey said. "The dotting technique is sacred imagery."

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Harvey said we only know a portion of the story behind the art, which goes back 50,000 years.

"The beauty of this art is how contemporary it appears," Harvey said. "What is unique about the art is it speaks on many levels, it's very powerful, and it's still primitive."

Harvey has extended the exhibition beyond July and has also organized several opportunities for the public to learn more about the Papunya Tula Artists through films and lectures at The Community Library in Ketchum.

Papunya Tula Artists are elder men and women who paint in studios created for them to produce their works for sale. Up to 60 percent of the paintings' sale price returns to the Papunya Tula Artists community.

"They are custodians of the land," Harvey said. "This show is a rare opportunity for Sun Valley to learn about this work and the people who create it."

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com




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