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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Australian Spiritual Masterpieces at Perez

Today I got a chance to see the new exhibition called No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Paintings. It opened this week at the Perez Museum in Miami, and it will be up through January 3rd. The work is divine, inspired, and hallucinating inducing. An afternoon panel discussion promised to be helpful in providing a context for the work... they showed lovely portraits of the artists, descriptions of their studio support system, and images the dramatic landscape. Three of the nine artists, one aged about 94, were in the audience.

Either I was too tired or too stupid, but the curators questions were so full of artspeak double talk that I could not understand what was being asked. From the looks on the faces of some of the panelists, they didn't get it either. So I didn't stay for the Q&A and slipped out to review the work in the gallery.
Most of the paintings are painted flat on the ground. Only a few were displayed like that. The orientation as the works are hung on the walls of museums and collectors houses is arbitrary. I found myself twisting my head around to see them from different sides... imagining the artist's progress in the creation of them. The patterns are informed by the artists desire to map their history and culture, as well as their landscape and, a topic mostly used by women, mapping their source of food. They use dreams and the idea of travel and Time in their art. The art communities have gotten so popular that the artists have been commissioned to design cell phone covers. That example and the fact that the show will travel to many other cities after Miami, is a sign of the increasing global attraction aboriginal art is engendering today.
 I love the Perez Museums commitment to showing contemporary art from places outside the western mainstream. This work is a powerful addition for our visual understanding of another way to make sense of our surroundings.
I thought of a fun lesson plan for the students in my class to map out their daily travels to and from school... use bright colors and borders and dots. Turn the work to switch orientations as they design it. Stay non-representational and abstract and see what happens...

If I owned one, I would display it on the floor and make everyone walk around it.

The labor intensive dots and patterns really played havoc with my phone camera lens... and I just wondered, if I let go of my left brain need to label and categorize, and let my senses free, how disorienting an experience the paintings would have on my eye's rods and cones. In an altering state of reception, how hallucinating the work could seem! It definitely has the potential to remove the familiar and put us in an extra-ordinary state. Wonderful exhibition.
Don't miss the chance to see this on your own.

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