Contemporary Aboriginal: Central and Western Desert Art

Ground Painting

The expanding central and western desert art movement began in Papunya in 1971 and these mesmerising paintings continue to delight audiences from all over the world.

Whilst coming from a very traditional starting point many artists have developed their individualistic style and are working in a highly contemporary style.

Whether the iconography of the paintings have origins in body painting, ground painting designs or highly significant decorations of ceremonial objects, the connection to country is at the heart of all paintings that are traditional Dreamings (sacred law) for which the artist is the custodian.  They depict the stories of Ancestral beings who travelled during creation times singing the country into being.

The natural environment with its site -specific features (rocky outcrops, caves, rockholes etc.) where specific events happened and where ancestors camped are linked through Songlines and connect people with their country and with each other.  Even if the secret sacred “inside” meaning of the paintings is not revealed, through their visual language artists are able to communicate the vibration and intensity of their emotional experience to the viewer.  As in all great art, you feel these paintings as well as see them. 

As most of the paintings are depictions of country and land formations viewed from an aerial perspective (as if we climbed high on a hill and looked in each direction), they can be hung either on the vertical or on the horizontal.