BRAZIL: O Tempo Dos Sonhos - OUT OF THE DREAMING: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art




Anne and I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to South America during which we visited Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Beside sheer enjoyment, our purpose was to attend the opening of our touring exhibition O Tempo Dos Sonhos (Out of the Dreaming) in Recife, participate in two soirée’s/book launches to which journalists, curators and art enthusiasts were invited, and to meet with Australian consular officials and local Museum directors in order to extend the tour beyond 2019.

The exhibition O Tempo Dos Sonhos (Out of the Dreaming) was created for presentation during the DEFAT sponsored Australia Now Festival held Sao Paulo in April 2016 as a precursor to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. It was developed by myself (Cooee Art Director Adrian Newstead), and Indigenous Art Curator Djon Mundine, in collaboration with the International Curator Clay D'Paula and sponsored by the Caixa Foundation, the cultural arm of Brazil’s second largest Bank. Following its outstanding success in Sao Paulo (population 12 million), the Caixa Foundation hosted the exhibition during the following two years in Rio de Janiero (6.5 million), Brazilia (2.9 million), Curatiba (1.9 million), Forteleza (2.6 million) and Recife (1.6 million) while the International car manufacturer Fiat sponsored the exhibition in Belo Horizonte (2 million). Additional 2018 venues are located in Salvador (2.9 million) and the picturesque heritage city of Ouro Preto.

Book Launch and Soiree with artists, collectors, and curators - Recife, Brazil (June 2018).


The exhibition was specifically devised to engage and develop South American audiences by drawing upon the curator's collective experience in that region. Djon Mundine previously organised Aboriginal art exhibitions for the Havana Biennale, and the Pinocoteca do Estado de Sao Paolo in 2002 while Clay de Paula and I presented the Aboriginal exhibition Heroic Narrative which included artworks that had featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2010 at venues in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro during 2012. A duel Australian/Brazilian citizen with a Masters Degree in Art & Curatorship from the University of Sydney, Clay de Paula has been promoting Aboriginal Art in Latin America since 2013 in collaboration with Cooee Art Gallery.

International curator Clay D'Paula at the opening of O Tempo Dos Sohnos in Recife, Brazil.


Our curatorial approach was particularly influenced by the ground-breaking exhibition Mestiso Histories, staged at the Tomiotake Museum in Sao Paolo during 2015. This exhibition examined the colonial experience of Brazil as seen through the eyes of artists commenting on the inter-racial history of the Portuguese settlers, former African slaves and Indigenous people of Brazil. The Aboriginal Australian works selected by the curators for the O Tempo Dos Sonhos were thoughtfully selected to draw parallels between the colonial history of Australian Aboriginal communities and that experienced by the first nations peoples of South America through artworks drawn from Australian collections spanning the period of 60 years. Exposure to Aboriginal Art is relatively new to this audience and the curatorial team included specific references in the catalogue essays and the exhibition itself which compare the separate but parallel histories of indigenous cultures and communities in Australia and South America. They also posed the question: How did indigenous artists in Australia make the transition from producing curio’s and items of purely ethnographic interest into highly valued and internationally recognised ‘contemporary’ art while that of the Indigenous Latin Americans failed to do so?

Curator Djon Mundine and artist Willurai Kirkbright at the symposium in Belo Horizonte.


This project promoting the art of 73 Aboriginal artists to South American audiences for the first time, has been specifically targeted to create a new audience in South America for Aboriginal Art and all things Australian. It has created the opportunity for education, cultural exchange and developing artistic and curatorial relationships while building interest in Australian Indigenous art, Australian inbound Tourism, and Australian cultural products in Latin and Central America. Brazil’s middle and upper-income earners are more numerous than the entire population of Australia. The potential for inbound tourism and trade in cultural products is unlimited.

This exhibition includes artworks by many of the seminal leaders of the various regional indigenous movements (such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Rover Thomas, and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri) as well as showcasing artworks by more than 30 currently living and practicing artists. There is a pressing imperative to develop new audiences for Aboriginal art. Investment in production from various levels of government must be matched by market development and promotion. The number of galleries exhibiting Aboriginal art in Australia has halved in the past decade - earnings in remote art centres have fallen by 126% (Ninti One report).

More than one million people will have seen this exhibition before its return in 2020.


Over 500,000 visitors have already seen this powerful and vibrant collection of Aboriginal art in Brazil. It is expected that up to one million people will eventually see and visit the exhibition (this forecast is based on the published number of people that visit exhibitions at the participating venues each year). The exhibition will potentially reach over 40 million people through radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and social media.

Thousands of school children have been able to participate and view the exhibition.


To date workshops and symposia with South American artists, arts administrators and curators have been held in Belo Horizonte and Curitiba. Presenters have included Ilana Goldstein (Brazilian Anthropologist and specialist in Australian Aboriginal Art), Juliana Podolan Martins (specialist in Indigenous Art), Carolina Lock (respected Brazilian Art Curator), Gustavo Malucelli (Latin American Indigenous artist) , Djon Mundine (Aboriginal Art Curator from Australia) , Clay D’Paula (Art Curator and Cultural Producer), Willurai Kirkbright (Australian Aboriginal artist) and Ricardo Resende (renowned South American Contemporary Art Curator), while I have conducted soiree’s and book events in several of the cities visited by the exhibition. In Belo Horizonte alone, thousands of school children visited the exhibition and many of these took advantage of the education workshop facility provided by the gallery.  These workshops for young people and the symposia aim to build a support network for the further development of a market for Aboriginal art in Latin America.

O Tempo Dos Sohnos will be held at the Museum of Pre-Columbian and Indian Art in Montevideo, Uruguay during the first quarter of 2019.


In Brazil, the exhibition has been greatly supported by the Australian Ambassador(s) Patrick Lawless and John Richardson, Consular staff, Austrade, and DFAT through it Council of Latin American and Australian Relations (COALA) as well as Australian and Brazilian companies involved in the arts and business and education sectors - such as the Caixa Foundation, Kangaroo Travel and Latino Australia Education.

Brazil's population of 210 million people includes 25 million at the top socio-economic level (i.e. as large a potential audience as Australia's total population). Australians and Brazilians share a love of nature, vibrant colour, and rich and divergent cultures. This exhibition includes art by more than 70 indigenous artists that have come from more than 20 community art centres and individual artist's agents.

Adrian and Anne at Museus e Centros Culturais - Casa Fiat, Belo Horizonte.


At its first venue in Sao Paulo, the exhibition generated $AUD335,000 in publicity for an investment in media of just $AUD25,000. For a small sample only of the vast publicity and media generated by the exhibition during the past 3 years view the following links: aborigenes-da-australia.html