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Papunya Painting: out of the desert
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The beginnings of the Western Desert painting movement
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This item can be sent to Germany , but the seller has not specified postage options. The late Geoffrey Bardon, its author, played the role as catalyst for the art movement that these days is called the greatest gift Australia has made to world art since white settlement.
Bardon was a man with a vision, in trouble with the authorities. He sided with the underdogs: people of the Pintupi, Warlpiri, Anmatjira Aranda and Loritja nations forcibly brought together in what Bardon calls the "death camp" of the government ration-station at Papunya. The "25 or more towering artists of my experience in the Western Desert" are the great prophets he studies in this book.
An art teacher, in the early s Bardon encouraged these people - ex-stockmen reduced to sweeping schoolyards - to begin brushing onto rough masonite boards versions of the designs they knew as secretive law-men. These are "hieroglyphs" used in ceremonial body painting, or drawn with fingers in the sand while telling a story.
Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert
As a writer he is a lyricist with a spare, haunting style. He offered literary portraits of each artist to accompany black and white photographs of real gravitas by a range of white photographers. Such portraits remain in the new book, but here Bardon reveals himself a scholar and art documenter of expanded powers, setting forth his personal visual archive. Melbourne University Press publisher Louise Adler, who oversaw this great event in Australian art publishing, tells the story of the manuscript arriving at the press in 10 large boxes. It required the labour of an in-house team as well as James Bardon, Geoff's older brother, to assemble this life-work into adequate form.
A superb essay by Paul Carter accompanies Bardon's own substantial texts.
The book's unique feature is its treasury of paintings, more than half of the boards made before canvas was introduced in For each work there is usually a fine colour plate plus an intriguing drawing: a rapid pen-sketch copy that Bardon made of the picture when the artist finished it, often in Papunya's "Great Painting Room" an old corrugated iron hall. The sketch records the main visual elements - seated ceremony man, tracks of an ancestral kangaroo, named waterhole and so on - of the story the painting interprets, based on the artist's words.
These were translated by Obed Raggett, Bardon's indigenous school assistant who was fluent in Pintupi.
Papunya Painting: out of the desert | Artlink Magazine
Then Bardon offers a paragraph on the image, in which his skills in formal description match the feeling with which he recounts fragments of story. The painted dreamings gain in intelligibility as Bardon divides them into great themes that link dozens of images. The first block shows more than water dreamings. Water is essential to life in the desert, and the creation of rain by the voice of the Water Man singing in his cave, storm clouds forming, rain and even hail falling, are given pictorial translation here.
The first two dozen water dreamings are by the great Johnny Warrangkula Tjupurrula, whose abstract renditions are of matchless refinement and complexity.
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