What is aboriginal art? It’s no surprise to hear such a question on such a topic so before discussing the best known aboriginal painter or artist as known in the new generation, it would be fair to explain the art itself just a little bit. This is art, very native to the aboriginals of Australia of which the traditional one was mostly inspired by rituals and religious ceremonies. It’s a very significant section of world’s ancient and continuous cultural tradition which is also the top valued areas of interesting art. This art is mostly based on dreaming and totems where by every design whether drawn or painted, held a story behind it. In most cases, symbols are utilized in this art especially to depict existence of distinct things. For example, the symbol that represents a man is a “U” shape.
Aboriginal art started around thirty thousand to forty thousand years ago and it communicates through beautiful patterns making it a language in itself. This kind of art could hold a very high value of cash, for example in year two thousand and seven an artist from Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjarain west Australia known as Tommy Yannima Pikarli Watson sold a painting for two hundred and forty thousand Australian dollars. In year two thousand and ten, some indigenous artists Alick Tipoti and Judy Watson were requested by the Queensland Government to paint the first two Tilt trains that are one hundred and five meters long with seven carriages and two locomotives making them the biggest aboriginal art piece of the modern world running between Cairns and Brisbane. To be precise, there are aboriginal masks in aboriginal art made of long and thin colorful dots where dark, earthy colors are usually used in most paintings in this aboriginal kind of art for example; light brown, dark brown, red, orange, among others.
The above named artist lived between years 1902 to 1959 and is one of Australia’s great artists and the best known Aboriginal painter. It’s is very correct to label him the most famous Aboriginal artist since his western style landscapes that was very distinct from the traditional Aboriginal art, earned him all the fame. This fame didn’t just stop on the popularity but it earned him and his beloved wife citizenship of Australia making them the first Aborigines to be granted such kind of citizenship in Australia. Since Aborigines in his time had very few rights in Australia, that was quite a vital achievement. He was born and given the name Elea, of which his parents in the act of adopting Christianity through baptism renamed him to Albert Namatjira after moving to an Aboriginal mission in Hermannsburg.
Albert at the age of thirteen years experienced vital ritual – initiation. He became a member of a group that was known as Aranda living in the bush for six good months where he and the other members were taught customs and traditional laws by tribal elders. He secured an occupation of a camel driver where by it allowed him a vital opportunity to explore the country which he would later paint about and the dream time and places of the people of Aranda, his family and friends. Albert and his wife Ilkalita (a lady he had married from neighboring community) built a small house near the mission where he supported his wife and his growing family through odd jobs that included making and trading of small pieces of artwork until year nineteen thirty four when his life took an important dedication. In this particular year, two artists from Melbourne paid a visit to the mission to exhibit their paintings. This very event played an important role in Albert life as the paintings inspired Namatjira to paint seriously and full time. After two years Rex Batterbee, one of the painters from Melbourne taught Albert how to paint after he showed him good places to paint, and because he had a talent and was a fast learner, he started to shine. In year nineteen thirty eight, his first exhibition in Melbourne sold out and so did the exhibitions in Sydney and Adelaide, even the queen was fascinated by the art piece.
Because of his artwork, Albert became a celebrity and his success filled him with money but unfortunately at that time his Aborigine state limited him. They had few rights, he wanted to lease a cattle station to secure his family but it wasn’t allowed, he tried to build a good house in Alice Springs but this also was prohibited, it was strange and disappointing. Here was a man successful enough, the world held him with respect, he was also a celeb, and yet the law held him in discomfort, he would not even own a land which was against his will. Fortunately, Charles Perkins an Australian Aboriginal activist, named him as the beginning of the recognition of Aboriginal people by the white Australia. This is was because, the public who were Albert’s fans, demonstrated and outraged at his predicaments thus pressurizing the government to grant him and his wife citizenship in the year nineteen fifty seven allowing them the right to vote, build a house wherever they chose, and even enter a hotel. After ten years, the Aboriginal community, the entire population was henceforth granted similar rights by the government. But as man is to error, his permission to buy alcohol took the best of him. His good friends expected him to share his alcohol with him but such an act was breaking white man’s laws. He was therefore arrested and charged with supplying alcohol to Aboriginal community, an allegation he denied. He was nonetheless taken to prison and after two months he emerged free but broken man. That event made him lose his will to paint and even to live; he died in year nineteen fifty nine at the age of forty seven. His reputation lives even as of today, his life and artwork touched the heart of Australia and hence he is praised around the world and inspires many. His family (including children and grand-children) and other Aborigines carried on with his work of painting. His life also contributed greatly in showing white Australians the injustice of racist laws therefore allowing them to make but gradual changes for his people.