The Russian-French artist Marc Chagall once remarked that “Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding”. While an interesting idea, describing the consistent struggle of artistry to develop toward an unattainable goal, it doesn’t necessarily capture the true essence of art in a way that can be fully universalised. Perfect examples of this idea can be seen throughout the long and winding history of native art, which has seen many a form that falls outside the search for aesthetic beauty guyhepner.com.
While the majority of us will have our own visage of native art, often based on the cultures we ourselves have been surrounded with, the creation of works that capture the human imagination can be seen in the annals of many an indigenous history. With that said, we have decided to shine a little light on some of the offerings given to the world by native artists, as a small insight into both the ideals of these cultures, and a view of the world surrounding us that may be quite different from our own.
While a practice that many are familiar with thanks to outlets such as exhibitions, historical documentation and Aboriginal Art for Sale from Mandel Gallery, the artistry of indigenous Australians is the oldest ongoing artistic traditions on the planet.
Spanning well over 30,000 years, Australia’s Aboriginals continue to create art through various mediums and styles, often distinguished by their striking, earthy use of colouring. These now iconic works often feature depictions of nature, tribes, animals and the soft distinction of the physical and spiritual.
In its oldest form, native Australian art has been discovered in the form of rock paintings and etchings spanning thousands of years. While a fascinating topic for many a historian, these surviving remnants of ancient indigenous tribes hold far more sacred significance to Aboriginal culture as reminders of those that came before them.
Japan and its culture is one that, throughout a large portion of its history, had relatively little interaction with the outside world. This lead to a characteristically singular view of the world at large depicted through its varying art forms. From paintings to pottery, artistic relics from Japan’s history tend to shy away from direct interpretations from the events depicted, often used as metaphoric or stylised portrayals of their subjects.
While the Paleolithic stage of Japan’s history has yielded some examples of pottery, it is thought by historians that these were not designed for decorative purposes, and likely existed out of necessity as population density began to push early inhabitants out of their initial hunter-gatherer sensibilities.
However, as of the Jomon period, we begin to see more examples of ornate wares that bare aesthetics as a primary concern. As the potter’s wheel had not yet been invented, these works were created manually, which tended to involve the more direct approach of spiraling long strands of clay (a process known as the coiling method).
Few records of ancient art can compete with Egyptian artistry when it comes to describing the socioeconomic climate and belief systems of the time.The most widely known varieties of these paintings, etchings and sculptures come in the form of burial sites and tombs.
These monuments show many varying depictions of what their culture believed awaited them after death, while also acting as a way of preserving and immortalising the past.
While just a mere smattering of moments in the history of traditional native art, hopefully this has given you a small insight into what varying cultures have done in an attempt to create beauty, or document their lives. Whatever your fascination, there is a wide wealth of knowledge to explore, and many attempts at “competing with the beauty of flowers” to find.