• 2019.12.11
  • OZ Art
Australian art is one of the oldest artistic traditions in the world, dating back at least 30 thousand years ago. But what is Australian Aboriginal art?
The term aboriginal is associated with Australian art and has classical origins. The term is associated with the indigenous Australian populations – so called by the English colonists who took possession of these areas during the years of colonization.
But the first forms of Australian Aboriginal art are present on the continent long before the arrival of the Europeans. In fact, there are cave paintings dating back to 20,000 BC, in which the figures depicted represent the spirit of the artists.
For many indigenous peoples around the world and also for the Australian aborigines, the Earth has a strong connection with the past, influences their daily life and their social structure. The strong bond with the Earth, in the Australian Aboriginal culture, has a precise term and it is called Dreamtime. The Dreamtime contains a series of mythical stories aimed at explaining the origins of the culture of the aboriginal people and the origin of the world as they perceive it. They believe that the Earth and the people were created by spirits who, during their passage on Earth, created mountains, rocks, pools of water, and many other things present in nature. Even today, it is possible for the Australian people to communicate with their ancestors through the practice of ceremonies, rituals and songs or by reaching a mental state in between dream and wakefulness.
And who better than them can deeply know these lands, since the aborigines have been living in Australia for at least 40 thousand years. They were the main spectators of the continent's climatic transformations and the consequent configuration of present-day Australia.
For the Australian aboriginal people, painting is a form of writing and communication with the external world and the transcendental world of spirits. Natural materials such as water or saliva mixed with ocher and other mineral dyes, kangaroo blood and resins were used. To spread the color, makeshift tools were used, such as simple brushes made with sticks.
Another painting technique involved filling the mouth with color and spraying it onto the surface to be painted. Other pictorial tools could be hair or feathers, tied or glued. In addition to painting the body, the Aboriginal people painted the rock walls and the bark of the trees.
The painting on bark is very popular and, once the bark was prepared to be painted the color was applied with a stick or by hand, often using orchid juice. The most widely used bark was the Eucalyptus plant, which is distinguished from the other barks by its greater flexibility, so much so that in Australia it is commonly called gum tree.
The Australian aborigines did not only paint on supports found in nature, we know that cave painting was very common. Cave paintings are those paintings drawn in caves, or on walls or stone ceilings that are difficult to reach and that had a spiritual or religious significance in the local culture.
X-ray art takes its name from the detailed way of depicting the figures, showing the external appearance of the creature portrayed, in addition to the organs and the skeleton inside like in an ultrasound.
This kind of art requires a profound knowledge of anatomy. The subjects represented are usually mammals, fish, birds or human beings.
The dot art is the most widespread example of Aboriginal painting. Originally used in drawings on sand, then, later, transported on canvas (now also sold in shops) is formed by complex geometric arrangements of equidistant dots of different colors. The symbols used to represent concepts can be considered extremely stylized representations of the shape of the object in question (animals, people or trees for example) typically seen from an aerial point of view.


  • Alberto Ferrando
  • Jobcivil engineer

Hello everyone! I’m originally from Italy and I moved to Sydney, Australia, in 2012 after getting a job as a civil engineer. I love walking my dog along the beach, surfing and taking photos. I used to have a travel blog because I’m passionate about traveling and I love writing about it too. Sydney is my home base now and I wish to share how amazing it is to live here. I love to spend time outdoors and I’m always well informed about local events because my girlfriend works in event management.

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