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Australian exhibition Yoi transfers to Saatchi Gallery

August 3 @ 10:00 am - September 20 @ 6:00 pm

Yoi at Saatchi Gallery

After a hugely successful run at JGM Gallery in London, Yoi – a stunning exhibition of works from the Munupi Aboriginal Arts & Crafts Association – transfers to the Saatchi Gallery on the King’s Road, Chelsea.

Featured are paintings by nine Munupi artists, each characterised and aligned by the expressive marks they employ. Often painted with natural ochres and a Pwoja Comb, these canvases possess a unique textural materiality. At first glance, they are seemingly asemic in appearance. For example, Alison Puruntatameri’s Winga, meaning “tidal movement” or “waves”, alludes to the rhythmic movement of the natural world. The result, free from a mimetic representation of reality, is inherently abstract in form. This expression of gestural energy offers a unique insight into the movement of the artist and, by extension, the human presence, out of which art emerges; the artist’s mark carries the testimony of its author and thus the identity of the artist themself.

Delving deeper into the mark-making techniques of Tiwi Art, one finds that they emanate a distinctly spiritual presence. Dancing, or “yoi”, plays a large part of life on the Tiwi Islands. Depictions of concentric circular motifs, as featured in Josephine Burak’s Milimika, outline the ceremonial dancing ground. Narrative dances are a key feature of ritual activity. They can depict both everyday life and historically significant events. During these dances, the participants paint their bodies with natural ochres, using designs that also appear on the canvases in Yoi. Once again, this brings into direct dialogue, movement and narrative, the body and language. In the words of Judith Ryan (Art and Australia, 1997): “For Tiwi people, to sing is to dance is to paint.”


August 3 @ 10:00 am
September 20 @ 6:00 pm
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Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd
London, SW3 4RY
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