The evolution of Aboriginal art and where to find the best pieces

This article was created in partnership with Wentworth Galleries.


Aboriginal art has changed dramatically since the early days at Papunya – a settlement in the Northen Territory where Aboriginal acrylic art originated. Many artists are moving away from traditional iconography while maintaining their traditional stories. Essentially, works have progressively become more abstract. Many years ago, Rover Thomas and Emily Kame Kngwarreye were the key proponents of this stylistic shift. Now you only have to look at the bold minimal works of Kudditji Kngwarreye (Emily’s brother) or the fine detail of artist Jorna Newberry to gain an understanding of just how much diversity there is in Modern Aboriginal Art. 

Wentworth Galleries Aboriginal Art
Barbara Mbitjana-Moore: Ngayuku Ngura (My Country), 2014.

Aboriginal art has become one of the leading art movements in the world today. This ancient art form has evolved to become one of the most contemporary, attractive and interesting forms of painting today. The move away from natural ochres and pigments into modern materials and often vibrant paints revolutionised this form of art, making it the darling of the Australian art auction scene and our Australian art exports leader over the last 20 years.

Wentworth Galleries, located in Sydney’s CBD, have been involved with Australian Indigenous Art for more than 20 years. They were one of the first galleries in Sydney to showcase Aboriginal art and remain one of the few who still exhibit Indigenous art in conjunction with western contemporary art. With their experience and connections, Wentworth Galleries have an impressive reputation for acquiring some of the best works available.

Wentworth Galleries Aboriginal Art
Nyurapayia Nampijinpa: Untitled, 2019.
Wentworth Galleries Aboriginal Art
Tommy Watson: Layarka, 2018.

For the inexperienced eye, it’s easy to misjudge the quality from one work to another but if you take your time, visit multiple galleries, and look at a lot of art, you will soon be able to recognise the high standard of works on offer at Wentworth Galleries. It pays to do your research and it pays to buy from a well-established gallery or community art centre.

It has been said by a professor of art and leading Aboriginal art speaker that Wentworth Galleries is the best collection in Sydney, if not the world. Quality pieces of art by some of the world’s greatest artists all backed up by a 2-year exchange guarantee.

Wentworth Galleries Aboriginal Art
Minnie Pwerle: Awelye-Atnwengerrp, 2004

You can find Aboriginal art in galleries all over the world – in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore and beyond. However, the secret is, you’ll get the best of it at Wentworth Galleries in Sydney.

Find out more: wentworthgalleries.com.au

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