Saturday, September 19, 2015

I'm haunted by this painting by Mr. Tjapaltjarri

Today’s New York Times has – what I consider – an important piece about the mesmerizing art of Mr. Tjapaltjarri who grew up in the Western Australia desert “hunting lizards and wearing no clothes except for human-hair belts, as its ancestors had for tens of thousands of years,” until his tribe was accidentally discovered in 1984. The newspapers heralded his community as the last “lost tribe.”

Mr. Tjapaltjarri now has a worldwide reputation as an artist but his primary advocation is healer and keeper of ancestral stories for his people; his is still a commanding presence in the community where he lives in the Gibson Desert.

His paintings which have made him a sought after artist … “seem abstract, made from thousands of dots — a signature of much Desert Painting. The dots form tight parallel lines that, when viewed close up, oscillate like those of a Bridget Riley Op Art painting, except more so, a visual equivalent of standing near a speaker that drowns out all the sound around it…”

“The lines and switchbacks, painted on linen canvas while it is flat on the ground, correspond to mythical stories about the Pintupi and the formation of the desert world in which they live. Some of the stories, which are told in song, can be painted for public consumption, but others are too sacred or powerful to be revealed to outsiders. “My land, my country,” said Mr. Tjapaltjarri, the only English words he uttered during an interview, pointing at a painting with a circle made out of dots.”
His painting haunts me, viscerally draws me in. I wrote down my initial impressions below:

Gazing into Mr. Tjapaltjarri’s painting
I clearly see my thumb print DNA
spiraling still deeper entering my psyche
illuminating infinite ways of being
radiating out from my primordial past
into the ever-evolving cosmos
with me safely cocooned
in the center
at home.
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