It's the last week to see Desert Painters of Australia at Gagosian in Beverly Hills, which features work by indigenous Australians.
“The story [behind these paintings] starts in the 1950s -- not the brightest moment in Australia,” says Lindsay Preston Zappas, editor-in-chief at Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. “There was a forced displacement of a lot of these artists that were in the Australian deserts because of assimilationist policies, but also nuclear testing.”
This displacement brought indigenous groups in contact with white Australia, so they shared their lineages and artistic history, says Preston-Zappas.
In the 1970s, local school teacher Geoffrey Bardon encouraged these artists to start painting on canvas rather than sand, and helped them launch the Papunya Tula Artist Collective.
Then in 2015, actor, writer and musician Steve Martin learned about the art by reading about an Australian Aboriginal artist in his late 50s who was having his first solo show in New York. Fast forward to today, Martin owns more than two dozen Aboriginal paintings. Many of the paintings he’s acquired are on display now in Beverly Hills.
The exhibition ends Saturday, September 6.