A way of reasserting and sharing identity: acrylic paintings of the Central Desert. A critical approach

Roser Bosch


Many different discourses about the “new” Aboriginal art forms, especially Acrylic Paintings of the Central Desert, have been constructed during the last 30 years. These constructions have attempted to explain the role, the meaning and the reception of that art form, both in a local arena (concerning the communities in which it is produced) and in an (inter)national one. Such explanatory discourses are used to exceed the specific object of study – the works of acrylic on canvas – becoming general and descriptive views of the whole art-production of Aboriginal society, as well as of their culture and their identity. Moreover, these constructions came from two different fields that traditionally – from the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th onwards – have competed for the imposition and hegemony of their views: one related to the artistic sphere (mainly art criticism) and the other related to anthropological and ethnological studies. This article suggests an approach to the Acrylic Paintings of the Central Desert as an element of identity, reasserting as well as a place for Aboriginal cross-cultural understanding. From a critical point of view, many core topics -tropos- from classical discourses about Acrylic Painting -such as the Dreaming, the land, aesthetics, the role of socialization and the power of the representational system of geometric forms- will be discussed. In order to achieve the former, the mutually excluding polarization between Art and Anthropology has been avoided thus bringing together both perspectives. Furthermore, the aim is to recover the too-long-forgotten voices of the artists involved by disregarding the mainstream colonial discourse.


aboriginal acrylic painting; post-colonial aboriginal identity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/co20093243-251


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