Tag Archives: Mathias Kavage

Papua New Guinea ART : A BRIEF OVERVIEW

Rare West Papuan artefacts, photo courtesy Todd Barlin, Oceanic Arts, Sydney
Village decoration, Middle Sepik region, photo by Carol Dance

With lockdown and more online trading in art, the interest in PNG artefacts is increasing. And no wonder. The more complex, electronic  and unwild our world, the greater the appeal of the opposite world. We like the boldness of the sculptures, the wild designs on the spirit boards and the fierce expressions on the masks. We love that each artefact has significance to the creator, representing the heritage of millenia, identifying a specific tribe and place. As we get tamer we want more raw wildness. 

Australia has a long history with PNG. Pre-WW1, the western half of the island was in Dutch control. The vast northeastern quarter was German. In 1883 the colony of Queensland annexed the southeastern quarter of the island fearing Germany was about to take over the rest of the eastern half of the island.  At the end of WW1, the League of Nations gave control of the entire eastern half to Australia. PNG gained its independence in 1975.  

Five categories of artefacts from Papua New Guinea

There are basically five categories of PNG artefacts. First, contemporary PNG art, often painted in bright colours with modern paints, on newly made shields or on canvas. The best-known PNG artists are Mathias Kauage and his son Andrew Kauage, Timothy Akis and others you can find on the Internet. Michael Reid Gallery in Sydney exhibited contemporary Phantom Shields of the New Guinea Highlands  in June.

The Phantom Comics became hugely popular throughout PNG and the sign painters and artists be can appropriating the Phantom by putting him on shields. They’ve stirred quite a lot of interest among collectors and Museums. Almost every major world museum has an example of a Phantom Shield from PNG. Continue reading Papua New Guinea ART : A BRIEF OVERVIEW