Aboriginal Art Facts

There are some interesting Aboriginal art facts.

Australian Aboriginal art is the most famous kind of art in Australia.

Aboriginal Art Facts: “Art Was their Written Language”
Australian Aboriginal People passed their knowledge, culture and beliefs on the new generations through storytelling, dance and song. They never had a written language, so there is no material that we can read that would be written by early Aboriginal people. They did however have a way to preserve their customs and beliefs for future generations, and it was through their art. The art of Australian indigenous people always has a meaning, it can be about their lifestyle, their everyday life, beliefs, customs or ceremonies. A piece of art of an animal for example means more than just a picture of an animal, it can be their creation being, associated with their mythology. A few added symbols can turn a painting into a story.

aboriginal art facts
 Aboriginal art facts by scott1346 via Flickr.com

Aboriginal Art Facts: Naturalistic and Abstract
Just like modern art, Australian Aboriginal art was traditionally either naturalistic or abstract. Naturalistic art means pictures, paintings and engravings about animals, people, something of a recognisable shape, while abstract art consists of dots, lines, circles, u-shapes and other shapes and symbols which have a meaning. They may not be so easy to understand for non-aboriginal people, but Aboriginal people of each tribe knew their symbols and they could tell the story by just looking at a piece of abstract art.

The Naturalistic X-Ray Style of Northern Australia
In different parts of Australia, they had different trends, depending on their environment and lifestyle. Northern Australia for example is known for naturalistic art, particularly a style called X-ray art, where on the paintings of humans and animals, internal organs were also shown. There is a wide range of those paintings preserved in caves across northern Australia, with some of the most famous examples in Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory, northern Kimberley and around Laura on Cape York Peninsula.

The Abstract Sand Paintings of Central Australia
Central Australia on the other hand is known for abstract paintings, particularly their dot paintings. They used to make dot paintings on the sand, using symbols as messages for other people, or just as a culture lesson for their kids. These sand paintings were of course not preserved because the first rain or a bit of a wind would have destroyed them. Sometimes Aboriginal People destroyed them themselves, if they were moving on to another place, and the painting was about some secret knowledge that they didn’t want other tribes to know about.

Aboriginal Art Facts: Dot Paintings
So we don’t have historical examples of those sand paintings to go to. What developed from them however, is the modern famous Aboriginal dot paintings that are nowadays painted on canvas, using acrylic paints. They use the same symbols that were used in sand paintings, the only difference is the modern materials. Those paintings have become highly popular in Australia as well as in the rest of the world. They are found everywhere in Australian shops and art galleries, and they are shipped overseas for people who buy them in other countries.


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