NGV Collection Focus
During the 1990s, Indigenous Australian women emerged as artists of astonishing innovation and eloquence, a phenomenon that has positioned them at the forefront of contemporary Indigenous art practice. The eight senior Indigenous masters of light and colour represented in this special NGV Collection Focus inform their paintings with profound knowledge and cultural memory of Country and its sanctity. The works evidence the artists’ embodied experiences that are both physical and mnemonic and which predated European contact and its consequent cultural and intellectual assail. These intrepid practitioners of contemporary art have simultaneously come to the fore in two distinct cultural and geographical regions of Indigenous Australia: the vast inland deserts and a tiny island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland.
Just as Monet’s late-career paintings of water lilies defied expectations of landscape painting deriving from earlier more tonally restrained and structural examples by Barbizon and Impressionist artists, these Indigenous artists are radical risk takers. The visual music of their sentient ‘Countryscapes’ is not a form of abstraction or minimalism, but like Monet’s paintings of water lilies is an ultimate expression of their grounded-ness and joy in nature.