|The title for this mixed exhibition is taken from a line that Moliere puts in the mouth of his Don Juan. The exhibition features a selection of the haunting Wandjina paintings by Aboriginal artists from the Australian Kimberly, vibrant ‘yarn paintings’ by the Huichol Indians from Mexico and visionary works by shamans from the Peruvian Amazon. Outstanding work by other artists from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania are also featured - making the exhibition a sampling of the finest in contemporary art from all four corners of the world.|
Wandjina is a generic term referring to the spirit ancestors of the Australian peoples who presently inhabit the Kimberley. The spirit figure represented is the embodiment of the rain spirit which is the ancestor of the Woonambal people. These large static images are broadly painted on a dense white background using red, yellow and black pigments. Found on the walls of caves in the Kimberley, they are invariably shown front-on, generally solid, either head and shoulder or full-length, with large black eyes and a slit or beak-like nose but without mouths. Dreamtime mythology has it that the Wandjina emerged from the clouds, and will return in that form. Other versions suggest that Dumbi, the owl, prominent in some of the stories is the model.
What makes the cultural heritage of Mexico's Huichol Indians so unique, is the survival of the Huichol's spiritual traditions, virtually intact, despite 500 yearsof persecution following the 15th Century conquest of Mesoamerica by the Spanish conquistadors. This exhibition presents contemporary examples of their art in which coloured yarns are used 'to paint.'
Paintings by the two Peruvian Amazon shamans reveal the complex web of interconnected relationships that mankind maintains with the environment that he inhabits. These are vividly detailed works depicting signs, symbols, animals, plants and mythological beings and providing an unusual glimpse into the world of the shaman. One sees, in these paintings, the living 'spirits' of beneficial as well as harmful plants, both of which are wise guardians of ancient knowledge. These works underscore the importance of maintaining a healthy biosphere in which humans live in harmony with the natural world which is their life support system.
Contemporary art from Oceania explores the many novel experiences of modern urban life in contrast to the daily life of the indigenous peoples of the islands. In Melanesia such contemporary art grows alongside the older traditional tribal arts, which celebrate and maintain inherited traditions of the highly diverse cultures.
Africa being a vast continent is a huge repository of artistic traditions both ancient and modern. This exhibition includes powerful wooden sculptures by one of Africa’s most eminent artists, El Anatsui, contemporary oil paintings by the Ghanaian Ablade Glover whose heavily impastoed oils glow with vibrant movement and colour, as well as the more traditional thread works offered as protective talismans by the Nigerian artist Z. O. Oloruntoba, prints on handmade paper by Tunde Odunlade, and wooden carvings by Twins Seven Seven, both equally from Nigeria.
Xu Zhongmin, China, depicts delirious cityscapes in his extraordinary large panels of carved wood, whereas Kenji Yoshida, Japan, links East and West in his inspiring metaphysical works.
The exhibition also includes simple black and white prints on Tosa paper by Eileen Schaer, who employs the old technique of the European woodcut. From Europe also are the stunning visual poems of colour and force of the Transvangarde Austrian painter Elisabeth Lalouschek.
All these diverse perspectives unite at the October Gallery, between the 25th March and 8th May, in a celebration of "ravishing beauty" from around the world.