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Tjyllyungoo, Lance Chadd
Search terms: canvas, watercolour, watercolor, acrylic, Aboriginal, landscape, indigenous, figurative
About the Artist
Lance Chadd, a Nyoongah Aboriginal artist from the southwest town of Bunbury, now paints under his traditional tribal name Tjyllyungoo. This gesture represents an act of homage by the artist to his Aboriginal heritage. His breathtaking landscapes, which are now highly acclaimed not only in Australia but in countries such as America and Japan, also constitute a gesture of recognition though not directly to the peculiarities of Aboriginal culture per se. Instead they depict and revere the land that has sustained, fostered and provided the deepest roots of this ancient embattled, and now we might say re-invigorated culture. The landscape paintings represent the artist’s personal claim of spiritual unity with the land, rather than a political claim of restitution of Aboriginal land ownership. It is this very genuine and individual emotional involvement that lends to Tjyllyungoo's paintings their special appeal and poignancy, and which renders them highly accessible to any responsive audience.
Tjyllyungoo's artistic endeavours were encouraged from an early age by his association with family members who were well known landscape painters. His uncles Allan Kelly and Reynold Hart were artists of the famous Carrolup Mission, and their style of depicting bush landscape has provided a great influence on Tjyllyungoo's art. Other notable early influences were the artists Albert Namatjira and Hans Heysen. The manner in which all these artists render their landscape is rooted in the realistic landscape style that employs perspectival space and tonal definition of forms. It is a style that differs immensely from the now popular and predominant Central Desert idioms, and because of this, Tjyllyungoo's works offer a most refreshing alternative to what has now become a dubious and misrepresentative stereotype. His works attest to the variety of styles now prevalent among Aboriginal artists and show us that not all Aboriginal artists paint abstract flat surfaces with dot designs and motifs.
Abstract mythological symbols, indeed, have little to do with Tjyllyungoo's art. One doesn’t need knowledge of the myths of the Dreamtime in order to appreciate his landscapes. They are rendered not with abstract symbols and designs, nor with empirical objectivity and exactitude, but in an evocative and romantically laden manner that is reminiscent of the spiritual landscape tradition of both Eastern and Western countries. Thus in their poetic equilibrium and brooding beauty the paintings of Tjyllyungoo elicit a fundamentally experiential response in the viewer. He uses his fluid though disciplined style with "simplicity and freedom from complexity" in order to initiate an experience of the Dreamtime heritage, rather than a symbol of a particular Dreamtime myth.
Tjyllyungoo explains how "the stories of the Dreamtime are told by the fire at night and the sounds of the bush and the eerie pulsations of the Didgeridoos seem to reach up to and mingle with the stars". We can see in his landscapes an ability to not only represent evocative images but also to suggest the sounds, pulsations and unseen forces of the bush by mastering the use of his medium. The artist's formidable technical skill with the medium of watercolour for example enables him to suggest different passages of light and shadow, to render a parched earth or the brittle tactility of a gnarled dead tree, to suggest the evanescent mists of late night or early morning, and to evoke mood and mystery suffused with imagined sounds of wind, didgeridoos or perhaps night's eerie hum. Thus the artist achieves a truly synaesthetic effect that encourages the viewer to emotionally participate as well as aesthetically apprehend the picture.
Tjyllyungoo paints his visions of Australia's harsh yet fragile environment in order to iterate his affinity with the land that symbolizes his heritage and that constitutes the essence of his own personal identity. But he also paints these images in order to lend the experience to others.
The artist has painted professionally since 1981, and his most recent Solo exhibition was at Gomboc Gallery in 2002. His work is in many collections worldwide including the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Berndt Collection. Tjyllyungoo's artistic efforts are all the more admirable considering that he has received no formal training.