Tonight is the opening of “Uncrated VI” at Booker Lowe Gallery, Houston (and the nation’s) premier gallery focusing on the work of contemporary Aboriginal Artists. Truth be told, this is one of the first places that I felt a connection with when I started trying to be an art lover, and I was lucky enough to visit with Gallery owner Nana Booker a few weeks ago about “Stargazers,” her previous show. See image Napaljarri-warnu Jukurrpa above.
When thinking about contemporary art, Aboriginal rarely comes to mind and yet when I started investigating it more, found out about its cultural roots in dreaming and the methods in which the paintings have been created (brush and twigs, etc) I found that it’s graphic and minimal sensibilities had more in common with modern art than I had imagined. Moreover, I would go further to say that these works serve as a perfect primer for people who are trying to understand modern art, in general.
Aboriginal artworks are based on stories (dreamings) passed down from group to group from one generation to the next and so when you look at any piece, though you might be delighted at the design and color, you are also being brought into a specific story (or mythology, one might say). The abstraction has meaning. How glorious!
And this is where I think Aboriginal art is helpful for people who do not have a strong connection with minimal modern and contemporary art. How many times have you looked at something and thought — what the hell is this about, already? Most of the time, a viewer never gets a clear answer because the content is either incredibly personal, might be accidental, or the explanation text is written in such a strange art language that you give up half way through. The content of a these types of work rarely connect you with the piece. Your experience and interpretation, separate from that of the artist, is what does it.
With Aboriginal work the art itself draws you in and the story within it connects you from a personal perspective. That immediacy gives the viewer the opportunity to start asking other questions like: when was this painted, who was this person, why did they do this. And that is when the fun begins!
Everyone should visit this gem of a gallery near Washington, and Nana’s enthusiasm is contagious.
The new show “Uncrated VI” is comprised of new painting from Australia’s Northern territory.
Opening: February 4 from 2 – 6 pm, Gallery talk at 3 pm.
Show is open until April 28th.
Location: 4623 Feagan. Wednesday through Saturday 11 – 5 pm.