'Traços' brings together a wide selection of Aboriginal paintings from the Ethnological Museum

Barcelona City Council publishes “Traços. Pintura aborigen australiana: tradició i contemporaneïtat” written by Estela Ocampo, and illustrated with numerous photographs that allow the reader to discover a richly aesthetic culture with strong metaphysical undercurrents.

This book, a trilingual edition in Catalan, Spanish and English, takes as its starting point a wide selection of paintings done on eucalyptus bark taken from the collections held at the Museu Etnològic i de Cultures del Món – one of the finest in Europe – roughly dating from the 1960s and 1970s.

Structured in two parts and preceded by an introductory text by Ainize González, Estela Ocampo, author and curator of the exhibition that bears the same name, takes us on a visual journey from traditional painting on eucalyptus bark to today’s most global, cutting edge contemporary art.

The first part is dedicated to traditional bark painting – highly sophisticated and visually appealing, closely tied to the ritual world and a gateway to the Dreamtime – while the second deals with the emergence of Australian Aboriginal art onto the international art scene and art market in the form of large-scale de-consecrated acrylic paintings.

The pieces by Brook Andrew and Judy Watson, contemporary artists with indigenous roots featured in the book, represent a critique of Australia’s colonial past and neo-colonial behaviour in general, using contemporary artistic media.

“Memory, stories and their voices; ancestors, worldviews, the land, maps, and even skin, run through each of the works. Ritual paintings, traditional and contemporary pieces are all part of a delicate invisible thread that subtly connects them”.