Urgent Museum Notice

Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Painting

Installation view of a gallery space. On a white wall, it says in big blue letters
Oct 09, 2009, to Jan 10, 2010

Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Paintings presents twenty-six masterworks by some of Australia’s best-known painters, including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Dorothy Napangardi Robinson, Abie Loy Kemarre, Mitjili Napurrula, and Eubena Nampitjin.

Aboriginal artists have long been noted for their work in traditional media such as bark painting and wood carving. Although these art forms are still practiced, many contemporary artists choose to work with the modern medium of acrylic paint on fabric. They extend the ancient tradition of drawing ritual designs on the body or into the earth by rendering intensely colored, semi-abstract symbols of plants, animals, and features of the landscape on their canvases.

Through these alluring images, the artists seek to share a part of Aboriginal culture. The paintings are also powerful political acts, statements of the Aborigines’ rights to the land, and assertions of their enduring cultural presence in Australia.

In recent years, Australian Aboriginal art has captured the attention of the global art market. Collectors and museums worldwide relish the striking color and intricate patterning of Aboriginal paintings created by artists in the nation’s central desert region in particular. The works’ nuanced expressions of Aboriginal history and culture reinforce their significance as rich cultural artifacts.

A colorful painting with little figures in different colors stacked on top of each other. The figures hold hands and have faces painted on in white. Behind the figures, lines in different colors create a pattern.

Angelina Ngale, Atham-areny, 2008; Acrylic on linen, 94 1/2 x 71 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Ann Shumelda Okerson and James J. O'Donnell; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Exhibition Sponsors

Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Painting is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is generously supported by Chevron, the Embassy of Australia, and the Members of NMWA.