Dreamings Australian Aboriginal Art meets De Chirico

04/07 - 12/10/2014
Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese

Dreamings: Australian Aboriginal Art presents more than 50 works – representing some of the best in terms of quality – executed mainly in acrylic starting in the 1990s by the preeminent contemporary Australian indigenous artists, exemplifying the various styles and schools of the central and western desert regions of Australia. 

Sensitise Europeans to indigenous Australian art, one of the most brilliant current artistic expressions, combating the tendency to interpret it in strictly ethnographic terms; link Australian aboriginal Western Desert painting with contemporary art and in particular with the metaphysical content of the art of Giorgio de Chirico and his conception of the world and the nature of being: these are the two main thrusts of the exhibition Dreamings: Australian Aboriginal Art meets De Chirico.

The exhibition is housed in the Museo Carolo Bilotti in Villa Borghese, one of the most appropriate venues in Rome for contemporary art shows. The museum’s permanent collection includes 18 works by Giorgio de Chirico, with fresh attention focused upon them in this novel juxtaposition with aboriginal art. 

The exhibition establishes a bridge between a concept in the Australian indigenous tradition – dreaming or dreamtime – and De Chirico’s artistic conceptions. This is highlighted in particular in the section dedicated to the works of Imants Tillers, one of the most representative artists of current aboriginal art, in the project room on the first floor. For the Aborigines, dreaming is the spirit time that precedes history and the creation of the world of men. 

The exhibition is organised by Ian McLean and Erica Izett. Ian is Research Professor in Contemporary Art, University of Wollongong, Australia and author of numerous writings on Australian indigenous art. He is a member of the scientific committee of the magazines Third Text and World Art. Erica has been active for years in the same area of study. 

Many of the works come from, the Marc Sordello and Francis Missana Collection (France), one of the most representative private collections of this genre. For the Museo Bilotti – which was founded on the basis of a private donation – it is an opportunity to reopen the exploration of contemporary art collections that has characterised its exhibition for years.

The works of the artists on exhibit are part of the Western Desert movement, which includes indigenous artists from communities across a large and sparsely populated region of Australia (600,000 square kilometres). The exhibition also includes works by two urban indigenous artists, Christian Thompson and Judy Watson, who explore the themes of land and identity in a contemporary style.

Less than three percent of the Australian population is indigenous. Most Aborigines live in cities whereas only a small minority have remained in or near their sparsely populated and remote native lands. Most aboriginal art comes from this remote Australia, giving life to a hybrid culture that combines indigenous and occidental traditions.

Emerging in the 1970s, it was not until the early ‘80s that Western Desert art stopped being relegated to ethnographic museums and joined with the stream of contemporary art. Partner in this development was the debate on post-colonialism, globalisation and post-modernism conducted by young artists and exhibition organisers, whose principal exponent was Imants Tillers. Since then, the works in acrylic on canvas of the Western Desert community attracted the attention of the art world and immediately thereafter, that of the art market.

Two principal expressive currents may be identified: that of the artists who still live in their remote communities – who came into contact with the international arts community starting in the 1980s through books, magazines, visits to museums and time spent with occidental artists – and that of urban artists of indigenous tradition, who are educated in schools and universities but have always maintained contact with the culture of their forebears. Together, it is an art that affirms original and ancient values while also serving as a barometer for change in the world.

The artists in the exhibition: Jimmy Baker, Lydia Balbal Wugulbalyi, Paula Paul Kuruwarriyingathi Bijarrb, Jan Billycan Karrimarra (Djan Nanudie), Michael Nelson Jagamarra, Paddy Sims, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Billy Koorubbuba, Carol Golding Maayatja, Claudia Moodoonuthi, Bessie Sims Nakamarra, Eubena Nampitjin, Esther Giles Nampitjinpa, Nyurapayia Bennett Nampitjinpa, Susie Bootja Bootja Napaltjarri, Lucy Yukenbarri Napanangka, Dorothy Robinson Napangardi, Judy Watson Napangardi, Lily Kelly Napangardi, Maggie Watson Napangardi, Lorna Fencer Napurrula, Nyarapyi Giles Ngamurru, Elisabeth Nyumi Nungurrayi, Naata Nungurrayi, Nora Wompi Nungurrayi, Tiger Palpatja, Minnie Motorcar Pwerle, Christian Bumbarra Thompson, Wingu Tingima, Mick Woma (Pegleg) Brown Tjampitjinpa, Boxer Milner Tjampitjin, Sam Willikati Tjampitjin, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Billy Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Long Tom Tjapanangka, Tjumpo Tjapanangka, Whiskey Tjukangku, George Ward Tjungurrayi, Willy Tjungurrayi, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, Hector Burton Tjupuru, Prince of Wales, Judy Watson.


Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese
Opening hours

Please Note: Temporarily Closed for restoration from September, 25 2014

4 July - 2 November, 2014

- from 4 July to 30 September, 2014
Tuesday-Friday: 13.00-19.00 (last admission at 18.30);
Saturday-Sunday: 10.00-19.00 (last admission at 18.30);
Monday: closed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 from 12.00 to 16.00, possible disruption because of a meeting called by some Trade unions. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

- from 1 October to 2 November, 2014
Tuesday-Friday: 10.00-16.00 (last admission at 15.30);
Saturday-Sunday: 10.00-19.00 (last admission at 18.30);
Monday: closed.

Entrance ticket

Free Entrance
10% discount on food and beverage at the Casina del Lago coffee bar by showing the Museum ticket purchased on the same day.


Infoline: +39 060608 (daily, from 9.00 to 21.00)

Exhibition|Contemporary art
Other information

Museum services: Zètema Progetto Cultura

The exhibition has the patronage of Roma Capitale, the Australian Embassy in Rome, Assessorato alla Cultura, Creatività e Promozione Artistica Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali; Collezione Sordello Missana; University of Wollongong, Australia; Ambasciata d’Australia; Australia Council for the Arts.

Web site
Sponsored by

BNL- Gruppo BNP Paribas, Unicredit Banca di Roma, Monte dei Paschi di Siena), MasterCard Priceless, Vodafone

With technical contributions from

La Repubblica

Exhibition sponsor: Gala, Restaurant de Bacon, Nova Pangea

Ian McLean e Erica Izett
Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese
Educational resources for all
Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese
Educational resources for all

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