BANGALORE: “It was probably executed by savages”, was the reaction of a British explorer when he came across the rock paintings of Australia’s Aboriginal people in the early 1800s. It’s a different story altogether now, with many Aboriginal paintings being sold by auction houses for more than a million dollars across the world.
The Bangalore International Centre invited Dayalan Devanesan, a doctor who has lived among the Aboriginal people for the past 30 years, to speak on the subject. He talked about one of the greatest contemporary art movements, the dot paintings, which started in Papunya Tula Australia in the 1970s.
Addressing the audience, Dr. Dayalan said that to understand “Aboriginal Art” one needs to understand their philosophy, which is the concept of ‘Dreamtime’. “It is a term commonly used to describe the key aspects of their spiritual beliefs and life. The stories about the adventures of their ancestors provide the themes in their art,” he said.
Shedding light about the genesis of the art movement, he said: “In 1972, an art teacher, Geofrey Bardon, started encouraging the Aboriginals in Papunya Tula province to paint on other mediums than walls and bodies. He gave them canvas and acrylic colours to paint with. He took some of these to the exhibitions and it started generating interest and soon became a popular art movement with many famous artists like Clifford Tjapaltjora beginning to command the same respect as famous European painters,” Dr. Dayalan said.