Contemporary Indigenous Australian Art

After the colonization of Australia the people of the country began to slowly change. New art techniques were introduced and cultures began to merge. Aboriginal artists began to learn arts that had been used around the world. As time went on, they began to master the arts that were taught to them.

bull roarers aboriginal art
bull roarers aboriginal art


The aboriginal Australian people already had a thorough grasp on the art of painting so it is no surprise that they excelled in moving their art from one medium to another. Artists like Albert Namatjira learned to use watercolours to create landscapes and similar art. Watercolour landscapes became uniquely Aboriginal and a style known as Hermannsburg School was created.

Hermmansburg School art became so popular it would sell immediately when displayed. Around the world many people still love this artwork and are raring to buy it.

One particular work of art is of exceptional note from the contemporary indigenous Australian art category, that of David Malangi. Malangi produced the art that was placed on the Australian one dollar note, albeit without his knowledge. A payment was made to him from the Reserve Bank and made his art the first piece copyrighted by an Australian Aboriginal.

In the National Gallery of Australia you will find 200 hollow log coffins. These art pieces are more than simply art. Created by 43 different contemporary artists, these coffins are a memorial for the Aboriginal people who died protecting their land during colonization. It is a moving art project that was crafted with a mix of modern and traditional art.

Emily Kngwarreye is another Aboriginal painter of note. Until her 80’s she was never widely recognized as an artist but she didn’t let that deter her. She created amazing pieces of Indigenous art throughout her life. The twist? She changed her style every year. Her art carved a path for other Indigenous people to start selling contemporary and traditional style art.

Some current contemporary Indigenous Australian artists include:

  • Jacinta Hayes
  • Rex Sultan
  • Trephina Sultan
  • Reggie Sultan
  • Bessie Pitjara
  • Joyse Nakamara

Art produced by the Indigenous people of Australia has been rising in popularity and value over the last few decades. These works of art are becoming more widespread due to the ability to get the art out of remote locations and more artists producing work. Prior to the last few decades the art was hard to get and there were few artists that exported their work to the rest of the world.

SEE: Type of Printing & Printers for the Artwork Printing Process


Australian Indigenous people have created a wide amount of art both traditional and contemporary art. Even their contemporary art has its own unique appearance and feel. The popularity of pieces from these people is only expected to continue to rise as it makes its way around the world.

Modern Aboriginal Art – Video and Narration of this Article