In her essay, ‘Moorditj Marbarn (Strong Magic)’, Aboriginal artist Julie Dowling quotes Jean-Paul Sartre who described the role of painting as ‘the painter paints the world only so that free men may feel their freedom as they face it’. Her belief that painting is her means of cultural and personal survival provides an important perspective to the notion that painting is alive in the broadest sense:

On a metaphysical level, the use of pigments and materials such as ochres is a sacred act coming from sacred lands. Such pigments have power because they project these same values, while we translate the many layers of meaning we possess in our minds and hearts as Indigenous peoples. Such colours create relationships between people and the land by travelling great distances throughout the world on bark boards, carved objects and on canvas.

Janet McKenzie
Mediators and Messengers: Contemporary Art in the Landscape

What a line from Sartre: “the painter paints the world only so that free men may feel their freedom as they face it.”

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