20 October 2015


I've only visited from afar, but I enjoy seeing the flowering of Aboriginal art. It's so much more than dot paintings, as valid and impressive an expression they may be. What I've seen of contemporary Aboriginal art is often ardently political, retains a link to traditions and the land, may be confronting or gentle and open. I went off in Adelaide to view some such art mounted in numerous locations for the Tarnanthi festival of contemporary ATSI art. Our outings were just a visit, none too serious but enlightening. Tandanya, the Aboriginals-owned and managed multi-arts centre was mounting a new exhibition, so no luck there. The Contemporary Arts Centre of SA (CACSA) was displaying two little exhibitions. Fiona Foley dealt with opium's role in subjugating Aboriginals in Queensland. Brad Larkin presented 3D printed maps of Alice Springs and thereabouts. The Art Gallery of SA is a favourite location of mine. Dinni Kunoth Kamarre and Josie Kunoth Penyarre displayed arrestingly joyful pictures of Bush footy (Aussie Rules) painted with child-like innocence. Vincent Namatjira had some lovely personalities, including Jimmy Pompey playing guitar. There were Namatjira-influenced hand-painted round paintings (or skirts or lamp shades) and bush birds in painted timber and a set of rabidly political photos from Tony Albert of 20 black men standing bare-chested with red targets painted on their chests. All fascinating and a rejoinder to a too-Euro experience.

Tarnanthi is a festival of contemporary ATSI art in 22 venues across Adelaide, with exhibitions running to January 2016. 2015 is the inaugural festival.

  • Tarnanthi website
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