SALINA KHALID in Malaysia reports:

THERE are more to paintings than their aesthetic value. For the aborigines in Australia, since time immemorial, painting has been a medium to record and to communicate.

The people’s dot paintings tell stories about their rituals, their surrounding, the dreams and their hope.

Visitors to Pace Gallery in Petaling Jaya have a chance to see examples of these artworks, which had been especially brought in from Australia and will be on display until Nov 21.
Appreciating her peer: Maida Stewart standing next to a painting done by another aborigine artist Jean Burke.

Aptly titled Beyond the Dots: Contemporary Australian Abori-ginal Art, the show features 20 artworks by various Australian Aborigine artists including Lorna Napanagka, Tjumpo Tjapanangka, Shorty Jangala, Eubena Nampitjin and Maida Stewart.

The show is organised by Tjala Aboriginal Art and Asiapromote Ventures, and the Australian Trade Commission.

The exhibition was launched by the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah recently.

Though on the surface the mass of dots may look just like circles or simple shapes of earthy colours, to the community and the artists, it means more.

These dots represent stories of their past and spiritual ceremonies that are sacred to the community.

The dots arouse the senses, producing a gamut of emotions just like the rituals that inspired the artwork.

Though these paintings have shifted from the walls of caves to canvas, the contemporary aborigine artists still maintain a balance between new and traditional elements.

The exhibition aims at building international awareness of contemporary Australian aborigine art and culture while serving to encourage an inflow of benefits to the economically underserved and socially deprived remote aborigine communities, said Tjala Aboriginal Art director Mike Chandler.

Aboriginal artwork is regarded as one of the great artistic movements of the 21st century and is highly sophisticated, vibrant, and spiritually complex, he said.

He said the artworks, influenced by their centuries-old tribal traditions, each tell a story with a slice of cultural history.

Despite a history spanning 40,000 years, the indigenous Australian art movement, united in native traditions and styles, started to gain momentum in the early 1970s.
Intricate tales through dots: One of the pieces currently on display at the exhibition.

We are thrilled to be able to showcase the rich variety of the work by these artists.

The work is as diverse as the artists themselves – and an accurate reflection of the exhibition’s theme, Beyond The Dots, said Chandler.

He said Tjala Aboriginal Art has been supporting the Australian aboriginal communities since 2003 through exhibiting and marketing of their works in the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United States, Britain and Singapore.

One of the paintings by Maida Stewart was also auctioned with the proceeds channelled to underprivilleged Aborigine children.

Pace Gallery is located at no 64, Jalan Kemajuan, Petaling Jaya and is open for viewing from 11am to 7pm daily. The gallery can also be contacted at 03-7954 6069.