I intended to speak with the artist Sally Gabori for this article, but was informed in a terse e-mail that she is not available for interviews. Interviews need to be done in her Kayardild language and in person, a manager wrote me from Mornington Island Art Center, in Queensland, Australia, where Gabori paints.
Given that there are fewer than 10 people who speak Kayardild, and Mornington Island is, give or take, 8,000 miles from Charlottesville, I had to settle for her art.
My Father’s Country, is one of several works by Sally Gabori currently on display at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection through December 19. The artist was born on an obscure island in 1924 and started painting with acrylics on canvas at an arts center in 2005”and has since become one of Australia’s most collectible artists.
An astonishing, if small, collection of Gabori’s paintings opened late last month at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. Danda dulk ngijinda dulk: This land is my land, shows mostly works from this year, and they register as erudite experiments in abstraction, like Rothko paintings folding into themselves. They are, in fact, evocative rendings of the traditions of her native Bentinck Island, from which Gabori and her family”including three sister wives”were evacuated in the 1940s.
For curator Margo Smith, who had recently returned from an indigenous art fair in Cairnes, Gabori’s work serves as a reminder of the simple idea that there’s a person behind this art”that works of Aboriginal art are not quaint bark paintings from a faraway people. Gabori’s work shows her experimenting with contemporary forms, without being aware of the movements in the Western Art world. That, Smith says, tends to explode consumers’ idea of modern art.
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Gallery: Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection ,