DESERT COUNTRY

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Desert Country showcases the finest examples of Aboriginal art from the Art Gallery of South Australia's collection. It features the Gallery's superb holdings of Western Desert painting, including pivotal works by leading artists of the movem...

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  • ISBN: 9781921668043
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DESERT COUNTRY

Desert Country showcases the finest examples of Aboriginal art from the Art Gallery of South Australia's collection. It features the Gallery's superb holdings of Western Desert painting, including pivotal works by leading artists of the movement from 1971 to the present; as well as documenting the remarkable recent development in Aboriginal art in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankyuntjajara Lands of far northwest South Australia. The works are rich in story and arresting for their innovation, freshness and sumptuous colour.

Desert Country reveals the extraordinary development of the Australian desert painting movement and the flourishing cross-cultural relationships between Aboriginal artists working in the desert regions of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Through 100 dynamic paintings, Desert Country showcases the enormous diversity of desert art, from the exquisite watercolours of Albert Namatjira, to the ground-breaking canvases of the Papunya Tula artists, and the latest stunning works to emerge from the APY Lands.

Among the highlights are the profoundly powerful works by Pitjantjatjara artists, mapping the devastated lands which they were forced to vacate during the atomic bomb and rocket testing of the 1950s.

All the works on display in Desert Country are drawn entirely from the extensive holdings of Aboriginal art from the Art Gallery of South Australia. More than a third of the paintings are new acquisitions which are being shown for the first time publicly.

The Desert Country exhibition continues the Art Gallery of South Australia’s pioneering tradition in the area of Indigenous art. The Gallery was the first cultural institution to purchase a work by an Indigenous artist (Albert Namatjira in 1939) and in 1981, became the first to start collecting western desert ‘dot’ painting.

Art Gallery of South Australia Director Nick Mitzevich says “Without a doubt, desert painting is Australia’s single most significant contribution to the art world and it deserves to be celebrated. I am very proud that the Art Gallery of South Australia is continuing to lead the way in the promotion of Aboriginal art, by being the first to document the rise of the desert art movement.”

Nici Cumpston, the curator of the exhibition, hopes that beyond its artistic goals, the exhibition will also be a step forward to improved race relations with the wider Australian community. “Desert Country allows us into an ancient existence and to witness history through the contemporary art of the oldest living culture in the world. Taking the time to learn the stories behind the paintings is one of the ways that enables us all to understand this culture and to enhance our respect for it”, she says.

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