Angelina Pwerle, “Bush Plum” (2013) (all images courtesy of Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans, and the artists)
Visiting the Museum of Anthropology to see these remarkable paintings by some of the leading Aboriginal women artists of Australia, was a revelation. To be in the experience of these magical works gave me a feeling of aliveness and expansiveness, connecting me to a universe of truths far beyond my fragile concerns.
The paintings are composed of traditional abstract mark marking denoting nature, spirits, and a disappearing way of life lived in relation to the cosmos. Angelina Pwerle”s “Bush Plum”, captivated and enthralled me. I loved her precision and meditative repetition of marks, meticulous and singular, yet varied in size and color that are placed with an organic, flowing, intuitive gesture that vibrates with an incandescent energy opening like a portal into the infinite. Her inspiration is a tiny flower, the Bush Plum of the title, which blooms in the red sands of the desert. These infinitely subtle variations of dots constellate the canvas like a night sky, waves of the sea or the wave’s traces left in sands. This abstraction of the tiny white flower creates a canvas of great depth and power. I sat for a long time in front of Angelina Pwerle’s “Bush Plum”, as well as the other paintings she had in the show. I feel I have taken with me its presence of stillness and absorbed its sensation of continuous movement, the ongoingness of time and beauty. I am reminded of Agnes Martin: “When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life”.
The Canadian writer Shawna Lemay, in her blog (which is of great inspiration to me), quotes Glen Gould in a post she writes about poetry, though equally applies to the art of these paintings: “The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline, but a gradual lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”
Marking The Infinite” continues on at MOA until March 31st, 2019.