Embassy of Australia
United States of America

Exhibitions and Events

Tommy Mitchell - Warlpapuka, 2009
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
40 x 60 in. (102 x 152 cm)
© Tommy Mitchell estate, courtesy of Warakurna Artists




Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting

Works from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl

4 October 2016 to 7 February 2017

No Boundaries showcases the work of nine Aboriginal artists from remote northwest Australia, revered as community leaders and the custodians of ceremonial knowledge. They took up painting late in their lives, but quickly established themselves at the forefront of Australian contemporary art.  The paintings of these nine men cannot be understood outside of the rich cultural traditions that inform them. At the same time, these artists are innovators of the highest order.

Aboriginal artists have long used abstraction to conceal secret and sacred elements within their paintings. In describing these paintings as “abstract,” this exhibition does not wish to suggest that these artworks belong to the same tradition as western modernist abstraction. Aboriginal Australians have been practicing abstraction for millennia, using it to convey complex religious systems and spiritual understandings of the earth. The abstract style of these works creates moving impressions, keeping sacred elements hidden but allowing viewers to experience their power indirectly through line, gesture, scale, and color.

Our contemporary age is defined by globalization driven not only by the market, but also by displacement, diaspora, the movement of refugees, colonialism, and decolonization. This has thrown different cultures and worldviews into unprecedented contact and tension. Shaping these differences into meaningful connections has become one of the defining tenets of contemporary artists everywhere. It is the ability of these nine Aboriginal artists to speak across cultural boundaries while maintaining their distinctive identities that places them at the vanguard of global contemporary art practice.

No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting originated at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, and was organized by William Fox, Director, Center for Art and Environment, and curator Henry F. Skerritt. The exhibition is drawn from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl.


Tjumpo Tjapanangka
Wati Kutjarra at the Water Site of Mamara (detail), 2000
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
116 x 47 1/4 in. (295 x 120 cm)
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VISCOPY, Australia

Billy Joongoora Thomas
Gunambalayi—Travels of the Black Snake, 2004
Natural earth pigments and synthetic binder on canvas
59 1/16  x 70 7/8  in. (150 x 180 cm)
© Billy Thomas estate, courtesy Red Rock Art, Kununurra


Gallery @ Embassy of Australia
1601 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

Open 10am until 2pm weekdays
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For further information call 202.797.3000
or email: Cultural.RelationsUS@dfat.gov.au



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