Aboriginal art or indigenous Australian art is art made by the indigenous people of Australia or aborigines, as they are commonly known. Aboriginal artwork was in a wide a wide range including painting on wood carving, leaves , sculpture , sand painting, ceremonial clothing among others. Ceremonial and religious aspects of life are important to any society and this was an inspiration to aboriginal art. There is a wide range of styles that were used by the aborigines in their art with some varying according to time depth, however the art have gone back in time. An example of studies on rock art in Kakadu in the northern territory and Kimberly in Western Australia shows variations in style dating back to tens of thousands of years ago.
Most of the carved and painted art can be divided into two categories non-figurative or non-naturalistic and figurative or naturalistic. Moreover, aboriginal art is more complex than this , it incorporates freestanding carvings, thread cross strings, stencils, charcoal drawings, carving and objects such as beeswax, application of feathers. The oldest rock art painting in Australia is charcoal drawing, which was found at the excavation of Narwala Gabarnmang rock shelter in the western region; it dates back twenty eight thousand years and is one of the oldest pieces on earth. Narwala Gabarnmang is considered the oldest and extensive collections on earth.
Figurative style or naturalistic style means that the person observing the art can recognize the subject on the art. It looking like a natural figure of the intended object, a macro pod figure represents a large kangaroo or a small wallaby but the basic feature can be easily recognized. The naturalistic figure comes in other categories based on subtle differences and the styles used in the art. Researchers and aborigines named the aborigines named the subdivisions for the locality and was mainly based on a dominant feature of the art style. An example is Kimberley, the wandjina, which describes paintings that was done at the wandjina and were multicolored with a crude naturalistic style.
Some of the unique Australian aboriginal art that used a naturalistic art is found in the northern Australian region. The popular regions where these art are found in Kakadu and Kimberly regions. A form of this style is where the internal anatomy of the animals is depicted in the painting commonly referred X-ray effect. The feature appears in old and modern art and dates over a thousand years, the X-ray style continues in the modern art and is mainly produced on paper and barks and these are marketed to tourist by aboriginal people of this region.
Non-figurative and non-naturalistic styles incorporate geometric patterns, abstract styles and are commonly found in central Australia. Aboriginal art has become popular in the world and dot painting involved paint colors such as brown, red, yellow, and white. The aborigines used dot paint on the caves, rocks and other surfaces. Aboriginal art history stretches back to thousands of years as evidenced by the caves of Nullarbor Plain and Ubirr in Kakadu National Park. The symbol and motifs appear on the durable surfaces. Being central to the spiritual life of the people aboriginal art was made for cultural uses. It has been suggested in some areas that the proliferation of dot painting was to obliterate the meaning of sacred symbols.