REVEALED EXHIBITION 2015
Reviewed by: Freya Hall
All images copyrighted property of Tim Acker
The biennial Revealed Exhibition, currently on display at Gallery Central Northbridge, presents a dynamic and diverse selection of works by emerging Aboriginal artists from across Western Australia. The Revealed Exhibition provides invaluable insight into some of the most ancient and exceptional art practices in the world whilst simultaneously celebrating contemporary talent.
Aboriginal art is Australia’s most recognised artistic export and is estimated to be worth around $200 million per annum. Unfortunately, the popularity of Aboriginal art has meant that there are those that unscrupulously seek to exploit its success.
A 2007 Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Indigenous and visual arts and craft sector highlighted authenticity scams and ‘carpetbagging’ as two of the most pervasive issues affecting contemporary Aboriginal art practices.
‘Carpetbagging’ is a pejorative term that refers to dealers who seek to buy art for well below its market value with the intention of selling it for a substantial profit. The Senate Inquiry noted that Aboriginal artists are often manipulated into selling their artwork in this manner due to age, poverty, medical conditions, or other social disadvantage.
The Revealed Exhibition, including its marketplace event, symposium, and artist development program, is part of a joint strategy by the State and Federal Governments to combat such problems. The Revealed program seeks to minimise exploitation by providing a platform for remote Aboriginal artists to gain metropolitan exposure and income, which in turn supports the continuation of rural art centres and contributes to remote livelihoods.
The 2015 Revealed Exhibition was curated by Thelma John with the assistance of three trainee art centre workers from Perth, Derby, and the Pilbara. John and her trainees worked in close conjunction with the exhibiting artists, most of whom work in art centres situated in remote areas of the state. The outcome of this curatorial collaboration is an exhibition that harmoniously pays homage to, and amalgamates, a rich array of personal and cultural stories, landscapes, and histories.
Gallery Central’s multileveled gallery space was appropriately left barren for this exhibition, with large expanses of open space creating complementary binary disparity with the vibrancy of the artworks on display. This astute organisation recognises that the technicolour artworks have no need for adornment; they stand proudly without frame or frippery.
Whilst dot painting is an important artistic technique, the Revealed Exhibition evidences that Aboriginal art should not be pigeonholed to this genre by displaying an extensive selection of techniques and media. Amongst the works on display are minimalist landscapes from the east of Western Australia; ochre paintings from the Kimberley region; Wandjina and Gyorn Gyorn figures from the west of the state; bark paintings from Arnhem Land; prints from the Torres Strait; and political artworks from urban areas.
The works of Daisy Japulija from the Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency in Fitzroy Crossing, and those of Doreen Chapman from Spinifex Hill Artists in Port Hedland, stood out to me in particular. Both artists use shallow-faceted pictorial space that is accentuated by complementary tones and repetitive, organic shapes to create works that are mesmerising in their dream-like vivacity.
The Revealed Exhibition is an outstanding example of Western Australia’s extraordinary and enduring Aboriginal artistic talent. It pays testament to the power of community, the beauty in collaboration, and the importance of supporting, sustaining, and protecting one of the world’s oldest living cultures.
The Revealed Exhibition will be running until 9 May 2015. Entry is free and all artworks are for sale.