Artist of the moment…..Betty Mbitjana….

Betty Mbitjana hails from Australia and was born in 1955. In her artwork she uses symbols and colors associated with her Aboriginal background. She was born in the Northern Territory of Australia. Her mother was also a famous artist named Minnie Pwerle. Pwerle was born in 1922 and passed away in 2006. An example of Pwerle’s style below. I love the way Aboriginal painters emphasize color in their art. Many works are painted are very dark black background, when color is added it JUMPS off the page!


In this clip we see some very large works by the artist.

Mbitjana works in acrylics.

When looking at the work of Mbitjana many artists come to mind.  When looking at her very large works there is a shape repeated over and over that reminds me of footprints. When looking at these in particular I am reminded of the great artist Keith Haring. Though you may dislike his work or dismiss it as too cartoony, Haring’s works contain movement in their line quality. The figure could be a stick figure, but with Haring even stick figures had movement. Mbitjana’s circle shapes also seem to move and vibrate. Below are some great examples of Keith Haring and his style of art. Notice he usually doesn’t put in little details such as the eyes, nose, or mouth but its very easy to grasp the emotion of his figures.

Another artist that comes to mind when watching Mbitjana painting is Vance Kirkland. Kirkland started painting in a realistic style, then switched to an abstract method in which he hung from the ceiling in a hammock like product he made himself. He painted with his canvas flat on the ground, much in the same manner Mbitjana produces her artwork.

I enjoy Mbitjana for her creative mixture of abstraction and I would call a primitive version of Op- Art. Another interesting idea is the fact that art colonies exist in much the same way they did centuries ago. Take the Aboriginals of Australia and the Inuits of Canada, both have seen the demise of their lifestyle due to urbanization and economic factors of their home countries. Both peoples continue to churn out great works of art and also families that have multiple generations of working artists.

price range information: Many works are priced from $500 to $3,000.


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