Black Art White Walls

Art Life , Exhibitions Feb 21, 2014 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

Toward the end of last year the new Grace Cossington Smith Gallery, named after one of Sydney’s best-known modernists, opened in Wahroonga. Black Art White Walls is just the second exhibition in this space. Curated by Aboriginal art historian Djon Mundine, the show is a selection of 60 works of Indigenous art from a private collection of over a thousand accumulated by gallery owners and collectors, Adrian and Anne Newstead.

QT_February 21_Black Art White walls

Works by numerous artists drawn from Indigenous communities Australia-wide, many personally known by the Newsteads, are included in the display. Emily Kngwarreye, Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, Clifford Possum, Kathleen Petyarre and Lin Onus are among the most recognised names. While the show traces the history of the contemporary art movement from its humble beginnings at Papunya Tula in 1971, the title also references artist Richard Bell’s 2003 work Aboriginal Art it’s a White Thing. Some things have changed since then including a shrinking of the Indigenous market as a result of circumstances like the global financial crisis, and the influence of new and more conservative superannuation laws. “Shine on immortal ones”, the lyrics from Paul Kelly’s Ballad of Queenie and Rover are brought to mind – perhaps this exhibition is one sign of new beginnings.

Until March 15
Grace Cossington Smith Gallery, Wahroonga
Pic: Queenie McKenzie c1930 – 1998 Three Sisters Blue Mountains 1997, natural earth pigments on canvas 120 x 90cm. Courtesy the Estate of the artist and The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery.

Sharne Wolff

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