Wentja Morgan Napaltjarri
Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa (Mrs Bennett)
Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri
Yannima Tommy Watson
Billy Pareroultja Tjungurrayi
Tjawina Porter Nampitjinpa
Transcendence is an exhibition of old and new, of stories long and short. The artists are from all over the homelands of the Northern Territory. The art speaks of their country and their culture in different styles and ways. Intense colour gives way to serene tonal minimalism and formal geometric structures morph into free-flowing works of epic proportions. All the artists paint for the same reason; to breathe life into their culture. They paint to keep the stories alive. By extension, they enrich our broader understanding and the history of this land before colonisation. There is much that has been lost to us already - it is so important that we preserve what remains in the minds and hearts of these artists.
The works were created over the past ten years, some by iconic artists from the late desert period and some by the next generation of artists. All have an unswerving connection to their land. For us, the younger artists in Transcendence respond to the burning question of Australian Indigenous artists: “If not me, who will tell the tales of the old people?”
The great and perplexing question for those who travel the vast interior of this country is ‘how could one survive in the harsh land with its freezing nights and soaring day time temperatures, lack of water and food?' The answer is in the dots and the lines; the very DNA of the paintings. This coding is the basis of the works in this exhibition. The rhythms speak of the rituals for living and survival; they tell the stories for the devoted custodians of this land.
The catalyst for this exhibition was the passing of the late great, Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa (Mrs Bennett), a woman of great intellect, passion and custodian of bush law. The launch of the publication of her life (The Art of Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa (Mrs Bennett) by Ken McGregor and Ralph Hobbs) and work at the opening of Transcendence provided an opportunity for us to celebrate the iconic painters and their work, and ask the question of what is next for the bush artists of this wild country?
This exhibition looks at the past to inform the future of this unique art movement. The paintings that hang within the gallery space are important as they expand our perception of this vast land. Historically, the European aesthetic of looking through the landscape using perspective to create an image that we recognise, has been the primary convention for making paintings in this country. The works of Indigenous artists have helped change our perspective to a more ethereal topographical view, revolutionising our view of the land. One asks when observing the works in Transcendence ‘is this way of seeing a more honest way of understanding and viewing our land because it speaks from the heart as well as the head?’ For the artists, it comes from a tradition of 40,000 years of living and dreaming.
Your monthly art news on the run plus invitations to Nanda\Hobbs exhibitions and events