To Dance in Beauty: Ömie Tapa from New Guinea
6 – 23 February 2014
Ömie Artists Inc. in association with Blak Dot Gallery, are delighted to present this very special exhibition by the internationally celebrated Ömie women artists of Papua New Guinea. To Dance in Beauty: Ömie Tapa from New Guinea brings together an exquisite new body of work created in the remote mountain villages that surround the volcano Huvaimo in Oro Province. The exhibition showcases the extraordinary diversity and living vitality of Ömie barkcloth art through a stunning collection of paintings adorned with dazzling geometries and finely executed motifs loaded with tribal and clan-specific cultural knowledge.
The paintings on barkcloth, also known as tapa, are the customary textile of the Omie, which have been painted in freehand with a rich and earthy palette of natural bush dyes. Each work is saturated in an organic, abstract symbolism that could only have sprung from a people intimately in tune to the natural environment where they live – a landscape criss-crossed with sites of great spiritual significance and inhabited by the spirits of ancestors. From Jessie Bujava’s almost three-dimensional compositions that interweave the designs of a fruit and a fish’s teeth with masterful precision; to the delicate filigree meanderings by the foremost exponent of men’s tattoo designs, Pauline-Rose Hago; to Pennyrose Sosa’s painting of a ceremonial necklace that seems to grow slowly like a wild jungle vine across the surface of the work, rendered in a gentle, mossy green -through their visually arresting and highly sophisticated designs the artists transport us to the mysterious and lush rainforest world of the Ömie.
Ömie art was completely unknown to the outside world until it was first exhibited in 2006 but has quickly become one of the most exciting contemporary art movements in the Pacific region. These extraordinary barkcloth paintingss in To Dance in Beauty stand as a testament to the strength and endurance of the Ömie’s ancient yet living artistic cultural traditions.