Australia was once a colony that slowly found its identity after its independence in 1901. In the last 121 years, the country has got its share of immigration and identity hybridity. The colonial past, immigration culture, and native past have created a mashup culture that has transcended Australia. Like most countries in the world, contemporary art in Australia has also got its modern features and twists.
The Recent Past and the Contemporary Art Scene in Australia
- With the explosion of the Australian art arcade in the 1990s, Aboriginal art gathered global appreciation. Previously the world perceived Australian art as ethnographic or primaeval. But with the new art wave, contemporary art attracted White Australia’s opposed desires for cultural resolution.
- This incident paved the path for the recognition of the artistic gravity throughout the country’s indigenous communities. The artists explored cultural alienation with a transformative expression of symbolic images and inherited Dreamtime mythology that was on the verge of extinction.
- Artists like Paddy Bedford, Rover Thomas, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and Clifford Possum came up with blocks, dots, and shades that used gestural brushstrokes to remind people about the collective knowledge of the origin and give a sense of the sanctified.
- This first upsurge of contemporary Aboriginal artists encouraged the art dealers and museums to actively accumulate Modern Aboriginal works that are different from the conventional artistic expression. Young artists started to work on the cosmopolitan mode of paintings that began to create a new voice for Australian painting and launched it in the contemporary art scene with the rest of the world.
- Gordon Bennett’s piercing conceptual paintings started to redefine the Australian colonial past. The representation of colonial history came with symbolism and a unique reunion with the past. To add an extra score, filmmaker and photographer Tracey Moffatt arrived with surrealistic cinematic images of current societal battles and traumas.
- This time the sense of local displacement transcended the Australian boundary because artists all over the world could relate to the sense of cultural displacement. It became a bridge between the aboriginal and the contemporary, one exceeding the other.
Artists to Look Out for in the Current Contemporary Art Scene in Australia
Jacqueline Fowler’s still-life paintings are precious. Ted Lewis and Ken Knight beautifully capture the landscape. Colin Parker’s figurative depictions have also gained popularity in recent times among art critics. Modern art is incomplete without abstract art because it captures the essence rather than the literal. Rob Forlani and Conchita Carambano have gracefully contributed to Australian abstract art. Also, the postwar aesthetic in Carambano’s art represents social commentary.
Though Nick Fedaeff is originally from Russia, he is currently making big waves with his surrealistic art in Australia and New Zealand. Falk Kautzner is a self-taught artist that you simply can’t ignore. His artistic focus on Sydney Harbour and the coastal life is truly unique. His art is true to Australia in every little way creating its individualistic indemnity.
Contemporary art in Australia has acted as an artistic medicine for the country because it has gone through a lot in the last two hundred years.
To be true to one’s origin and still transcend international boundaries is one of the most challenging tasks for an artist or art wave. Australian contemporary art has managed that gracefully by being aware of the topographical place and domestic identity. An independent country needs to assert its expression and distinctiveness through art rather than indulging in violence and generational trauma.
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