Wildflowers, by Sascha Long Petyarre

Before I headed off to Australia, a friend of mine who has worked in the fine art industry advised me to keep an eye for aboriginal art on the basis that there is some very excellent work out there. To which my response was, yeah, okay, but that’s not going to happen because it’s not like I’m going to bother to jump through all the hoops I’d need to jump through to bring a substantial piece of art back with me.

And then I went into an aboriginal art gallery in Perth and saw this piece, by Sascha Long Petyarre, and couldn’t stop looking at it. Nor was I the only one; there was a couple in the gallery as well and I saw them doing the same thing I was doing, which was looking at it, wandering off to look at other pieces and then coming back to it. I came back to it enough that eventually I figured out that if I didn’t buy it I was going to eventually regret not having done so. So I did — and had to jump through a bunch of aggravating hoops to get it back home, exacerbated by the fact I was also injured at the time, so schlepping a really large Tube O’ Art was that much more annoying.

But: Totally worth it. The painting, roughly six feet by three, looks great in this picture but it looks frankly amazing live and in person. It now resides in my daughter’s room, not only because it fits the decor there but because I hope she finds Ms. Long Patyarre’s door into dreamtime a creatively inspiring one (also, before any of you fine art folks ask, the painting is on a northern wall, away from direct sunlight).

I wasn’t expecting to get art when I was in Australia, but I’m happy I did anyway. Life is funny that way.

Incidentally, if you do like the image above, it appears Sascha Long Petyarre has done a lot of work that is thematically similar, much of which is for sale. Here’s the Google listing of her name, which features links to several galleries and other places that have her work for sale. Check out her work; it’s pretty great.

44 Comments on “Wildflowers, by Sascha Long Petyarre”

  1. Incidentally, the color change at the top of the picture is due to a shadow on the work, not the artist changing the colors. The colors in real life are consistent all across the work.

  2. Goodness, that’s magnificent. I tried looking at links and various google searches first, and it’s unclear, but is this ochre?

  3. I was actually disappointed to find out that the color shift is not in the original. I thought it really made the piece. But it is nice none-the-less.

  4. Stunning! This piece will bring you pleasure for many years to come.

  5. I’d love to hear Athena’s thoughts on it, if she’s willing to share.

  6. Love the Google images. I imagine the real painting is more awesome yet, not only because of its size, but because there can be a huge difference between the work itself and a picture of it. Don’t ask me how a two-dimensional piece can be so different from a two-dimensional picture of it, but sometimes it happens.

  7. It’s funny how some things just grab us like that. There’s a Georgia O’Keefe painting that I would love to have where I could look at it at leisure, but have never found a print of. I’m certain that, like so many things, it’s a very personal thing.

  8. When I was in Australia aeons ago, I saw some of the work done by current Aboriginal artists. Mainly what I saw was a unique blend of modern art filtered through thousands of years of Aboriginal perspective and technique. I would have liked to buy some of the pieces I saw, but I was a semi-starving student whose budget at the time was directed towards making sure I could get home. This was the trip where I was browsing a gallery and picked up a teacup I liked, only to find it belonged to one of the artists who was putting up a display of her works and it was half full of tea at the time. Slosh! The artist (after some embarrassment) kindly offered to sell me one of her other, not-in-use cups instead.

  9. Yeah, I’ve been to Australia and had stuff shipped home (actually, to my office, where my co-workers got to wonder WTF until I got back). I preferred spending the money to herding all the bits back myself, and I wasn’t even on crutches at the time!

  10. Very nice.
    It’s amazing how one can connect with certain abstract works, although this piece isn’t completely abstract. A lot of abstract art does nothing for me, but Jackson Pollock’s work, especially seeing it in person, really draws me in, And I can’t understand why.

  11. That is glorious.

    I shipped a painting (framed) as carry on from Calgary to Toronto because I fell in love with it. Much smaller though!

  12. wow. While I was in grad school, the museum at U of C (Smart Gallery? I’m blanking on the name) had an exhibit of Australian aboriginal art, and it was awesome. (I’m not a museum goer, but that one was a must-see.)

  13. I, too, am disappointed that the color shift is not part of the work. But it’s still lovely! I’m lucky enough to own two pieces by my friend Dave Moyer of farbelism.com; this piece reminds me a lot of his, for the patterning. Which is to say, thank you for introducing me to another artist whose work I love, and I hope I can return the kindness. :)

  14. Bet it’s nicer in real life where you can see the texture and brushstrokes. I can’t get a sense of texture from the photo.

  15. Damn. Great find. As soon as the page opened my jaw dropped and clunked on the desk. It’s mind-blowy. I’m completely jealous.

  16. I think the thing which appeals most to me about this particular piece is the almost tactile nature of it – it looks like it could be a tapestry or a rug, something beautiful and silky. (And now my crafter brain is busy trying to figure out how one would replicate it in 3-D form, which materials could be used, which medium would work best, and so on).

    I may pass the artist’s name on to my in-laws, who are the ones who have the money for this sort of thing.

  17. It’s beautiful – very much in line with my own tastes.

    I’ve never regretted buying art, and am still kicking myself over taking a pass on one piece in particular. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to realize that art is a vital cultural resource, so I rationalize my purchases as part aesthetics and part political contribution. Too bad I can’t deduct the cost from my taxes!

  18. As soon as I saw this, I knew it had come from Australia and I’m not at all surprised by the name of the artist, as it seems to be a style of the extended family. Gloria Tamerr Petyarre has a lovely piece in the Seattle Art Museum’s Aboriginal art collection and it is one of my favourites, as evidenced by my Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/sj0YUYyriD/?taken-by=zyastra

    The SAM catalog description: http://www1.seattleartmuseum.org/eMuseum/code/emuseum.asp?style=browse&currentrecord=1&page=search&profile=objects&searchdesc=Number%20is%202012.21&searchstring=Number/,/is/,/2012.21/,/0/,/0&newvalues=1&newstyle=single&newcurrentrecord=1

  19. @PixelFish the women of a Central Australian settlement rather dubiously named Utopia developed a new style in painting that used traditional symbols but with more repetition and abstraction than the style developed initially at Papunya in the early 1970s. They started off with batik, and then moved to acrylic on canvas
    Gloria Petyarre was one of the initial group, as was the famous Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

    With the more recent artists, some of the similarities are shared style and some are based on guardianship of the same underlying traditional designs and their stories.

  20. From here it’s sort of interesting, but not mesmerizing. For tactile pieces like this, I would probably have to see it person to appreciate it properly.

  21. That’s the wayIi buy art: if you can take your eyes off of it and know you will regret not having it with you later, time to buy. Shouldn’t be based on the investment value of a piece. I have a less contemporary aboriginal art piece and still find it fascinating (being an anthropologist helps!).

  22. Thomas: I thought it might be something like that, a familial preservation and expansion of a traditional style.

    re: Buying art – I bought a vase yesterday I was sure I would regret not purchasing. It was my Treat Yo Self moment for the week. :)

  23. That’s superb, and once you mention it I can see the Australian Aboriginal ancestry. I happen to prefer the more traditional Abo styles… and regret that I didn’t buy anything along that line when I was there for Aussiecon. (Which might or might not have had “One” or “I” added to it.)

    Actually, one of the major things I remember from lthat trip was strolling along the only-a-trickle-flowing riverbed at Alice Springs slightly before sunrise and encountering a group of Abos who did a great job of suggesting that decent people who had lots of cigarettes would certainly share them with with people who lacked a smokeo. . So I did, presenting them properly. (There, as among most North American Aboriginals, one simply does _not_ point a cylindrical object at anyone.) They invited me over to their camp, where strips of beef were cooking on a sheet of metal roofing over a three-stick fire. I held up three fingers and looked questionly at the leader, but he only shrugged. Then, mostly with gestures, I indicated that many of my country’s Aboriginal people used six sticks. He said “Ah!” and pointed in the six directions (East, South, West, North, Up, and Down. I nodded vigorously and he invited me to share their meal, which I did, taking care to eat only a few bites because there wasn’t much. Actually, I think that memory is more valuable to me than any painting would be, now.

  24. Don Fitch, FYI, shortening Aboriginal to the first three letter like you did in you post is about as insulting as referring to an African American as an n-word.

  25. Yeah, what Tony said. I don’t want to pile on Don, but our first Australians get called that term in a very derogatory way by racists. I know some may reclaim the term, but it’s not cool to use it otherwise. Certainly as a European descended Australian, I would never use it.