The summer holidays provided a great opportunity to reflect upon the previous year and rejuvenate for 2018 ahead. This year’s hiatus allowed time to investigate some of the realities that have and will continue to shape the future of our Art market. One of the unavoidable realities of this past year and indeed the last decade is the rate at which we are losing our First Contact artists.
Yannima Pikarli Tommy Watson, Pangkalangu (2013), Acrylic on linen, 112 x 102cm
In December, we lost one of the true greats, Yannima Pikalri Tommy Watson who reinvented the way in which we view our country. Through his eyes and his paintings we saw a landscape so often depicted in ochres, reds and browns in vibrant spectrum. Whilst known best for his own oranges and reds, it is the blues, yellows, whites, pinks, magentas and greens that allowed him to reach new audiences globally. No matter which way the you read the numbers, on merit there is no artist of the contemporary indigenous art movement that can compare to his record. Whilst we knew Tommy and his work intimately, he is only one of this finite group of painters who experienced the world before “white man”. People who were initiated into their cultures in a tradition of some 30,000 + years of linage, who through the medium of paint since the 1970’s are producing work uninhibited by the upheaval and external forces thrust upon them.
Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Marawa (2018), Acrylic on Belgian linen,152 x 122cm
Given that the only Australian work in 2017 to be seen at the pinnacle of Art Fairs globally, the esteemed Art Basel was works by two Australian Aboriginal artists who “walked out” of the desert in 1984 – Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri and Yukultji Napangati. We can’t deny that there is a movement afoot, with the reality that the last of this group will not be with us in the next decade or two, collectors internationally are gathering around this important crystallisation of human history. The last living, single linage cultures demise is tragically occurring before our eyes. In this newsletter, we want to celebrate a very small sample of the culture that this group of painters are leaving here for us to enjoy in the centuries to come.
George ‘Hairbrush’ Tjungurrayi, Mamultjulkunga (2017), Acrylic on linen, 152 x 122cm
Would you like to view more works by ‘First Contact’ Artists? Feel free to give us a call on (02) 9660 7799 or email us on [email protected]