Aboriginal art is art that is integral to the visual arts of the Australian continent. It is art that is worked on by Australia’s indigenous groups as well as other visual artists from Australia and the world over. It includes works in various media like wood carving, painting on leaves, sculpture, rock carving, sand painting, and ceremonial clothing. The art of the aborigines is not manifested only on paper is not only two dimensional. Australian traditional art is fine art, which is described as art developed mainly for concept or aesthetics, differentiating them from applied arts that also may serve some practical purpose.
Like many forms of fine art, artists of this art form also strive to express themselves through their art as well as communicate to the viewer of their art. Most aboriginal artists – ancient and contemporary – succeed to convey their artistic messages through symbolism. These symbols have long been a part of tribal art for a long time and have been carried to contemporary art done by the aborigines in collaboration with artists who are not part of the indigenous community.
The Aborigines have extensive artistic and expressionistic traditions within which they employ conventional symbols and designs. When applied to any surface like paper, wood, rock or on the body of a person who is part of a tribal ceremony, the symbols have the power to change the object into one with power or religious significance. A symbol on a human body may signify one’s position in the tribe; say like the tribe’s chief.
Some of the symbols used in Australian tribal and contemporary art are rain, rainbow or cloud or cliff or sand hill, two men sitting, man, waterholes connected by running water, fire or smoke or water or blood, footprints, stars, and traveling sign with circles as resting place, among other symbols used by tribal or contemporary aboriginal artists
Aside from the artists’ expressions conveyed in art, aside from the artists baring their souls through their art, the artists also seek to convey stories through their art. A “Water Dreaming” art may show a U-shaped symbol for a man, who sits next to a circle, or concentric circles that represent a waterhole, and spiral lines that show running water. The artist tells the story of the water man’s power to summon rain. More symbols add to the meaning’s depth. The doorway to the world of soul.
Contemporary artists who dabble in the art of the Aborigines refer to the “outside” story that they hand out to the public while the painting keeps an “inside” narrative accessible to people with the right knowledge level. Like abstract art, the art of the Aborigines may be subject to interpretation. While the artist himself is privy to the real meaning of the painting, whether it shows a part of his soul or it tells a story to be interpreted by experts, people would also want to see different meanings to that art piece. A piece of art work as a doorway to your world of soul.
In all, Aboriginal art is an expression of ideas and emotions through symbolisms. It is also an expression of the culture of the traditional and modern Australian people.