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Australian aboriginal bark paintings to tour throughout China

By Wang Ru | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-26 07:37
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Bark paintings will be shown at an Australian aboriginal art exhibition in Beijing. [Photo/NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIA]

An aboriginal art exhibition called Old Masters: Australia's Great Bark Artists will travel from the National Museum of Australia to China.

The 20-month tour will start at Beijing's National Museum of China from July 3 to Sept 3, before heading to Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Taiwan.

Old Masters debuted in Canberra, Australia, in 2013. China will be its first overseas destination.

Displayed works were created between 1948 and '85 by master painters from the Arnhem Land aboriginal reserve.

"When Westerners came to the land since 1948, the masters acutely sensed that some changes would take place. In order to cope with the changes, they actively adopted such (an art form)," aboriginal cultural consultant Jilda Andrews says.

"Westerners did not inflict harm on local civilization. Instead, some of them were anthropologists who fully realized the value of aboriginal culture at that time. They negotiated well and remained on good terms with the masters."

The stories and moments captured in the paintings reflect the time-honored bond between the land and its people.

"These paintings' dreamlike imaginativeness and vitality are attractive not only to (traditional) aboriginal culture but to (all) people today," National Museum of China deputy director Bai Yuntao says.

Bark paintings are rich in symbols in a way like traditional Chinese art, says exhibition planning group member Michael Pickering. He hopes audiences in China will ponder the power of symbolism in both cultures.

Australia's ambassador to China, Jan Adams, believes it will promote greater Chinese understanding of Australia's indigenous cultures.

An exhibition of traditional Chinese paintings will travel to Australia next year.

"Good food should be shared," National Museum of Australia cultural ambassador Guo Degang says.

"So should fine art."


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