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ART OF THE Ă–MIE

Barkcloth Paintings from Papua New Guinea usa 2014


Our Culture is Strong like Our Mountain, Huvaimo Nohi jajwe boromu mai dahoru Huvaimo va’ene

Harvey Art Projects’ second exhibition by the internationally celebrated Ömie Women Artists brings together exquisite new barkcloth paintings created in the remote mountain villages that surround the volcano Huvaimo in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea. Ömie art was completely unknown to the outside world until it was first exhibited in 2006 but has quickly become one of the most exciting contemporary art movements in the Pacific region. This special collection of works has been assembled to showcase the extraordinary artistic talents of the Chiefs and senior, leading artists from across Ömie territory. Each painting is adorned with finely executed motifs and dazzling geometries loaded with tribal and clan-specific cultural knowledge. These paintings on barkcloth, also known as ‘tapa’, are the customary textile of the Ömie, which have been painted in freehand with a rich and earthy palette of natural bush dyes. Each work is saturated in an organic, abstract symbolism that could only have sprung from a people intimately in tune to the natural environment where they live – a landscape crisscrossed with sites of great spiritual significance and inhabited by the spirits of ancestors. The volcanic mountain, Huvaimo, is the beating heart of Ömie culture. The first man


Background image: STELLA ÜPIA, fruit of the sihe tree and Ömie mountains (detail), natural pigments on barkcloth, 49 x 21” (124 x 53 cm), Catalog #13-006

and woman, Mina and Suja, were created there and the spirits of the Ömie’s ancestors reside there. It is the place where Ömie women’s barkcloth painting originates – where the first Ömie woman Suja beat the first barkcloth at the river Uhojo. It is a powerful place that is both honored and feared by the Ömie. In times of storms and floods the Ömie turn to Huvaimo to appeal to their ancestors to quell the punishing weather. There is strict jagor’e (customary Ömie law) that must be followed when approaching the mountain and entering its land. To this day, this sacred country is constantly watched over and protected by the Ömie. The works in this exhibition, through their visually arresting and highly sophisticated designs, give us a rare glimpse into the mysterious world of the Ömie. Included in the show is the final painting by Sahuoté clan law man Albert Sirimi, who was the only known male to be trained by his mother (the revered Avarro) as a barkcloth painter. Albert was secretly teaching a number of women in his family how to paint the old Sahuoté clan designs and also included in this exhibition is a work by his daughter, Jessie Bujava. Jessie’s almost three-dimensional composition interweaves the tattoo designs of the sih’e fruit and the teeth of the fish with masterful precision. Through her work, alongside her father Albert’s, we see the continuity and ingenuity of the Ömie’s ancient yet living artistic cultural tradition of barkcloth painting. Other highlights of the exhibition include a major work by the Paramount Chief of Ömie women, Lila Warrimou, as well as the delicate filigree meanderings by the foremost exponent of men’s tattoo designs, Pauline-Rose Hago. These extraordinary paintings stand as a testament to the strength and endurance of Ömie art, which are as strong today as the mountain they originate from and honor - the Ömie’s sacred volcano, Huvaimo. Harvey Art Projects USA gratefully acknowledges Ömie Women Artists of Papua New Guinea in this exclusive USA exhibition. Special thanks to Ömie Art Manager, Mr. Brennan King.


‘Buriétö’e’ is a very old Ömie word that comes from the time of the ancestors. It is used to describe the phenomena that occurs when looking upon people as they dance in their barkcloth skirts and loincloths - the very moment when the barkcloth designs “change” and come alive with beauty. The barkcloth designs combined with the dance movement create an optical, dazzling effect that activates this sensational experience of buriétö’e. -the late Albert Sirimi

ALBERT SIRIMI, garden weed with strong roots, spots of the wood-boring grub, tattoo design of the bellybutton, jungle vine and tree logs in the garden, natural pigments on barkcloth, 48 x 29” (122 x 73.5 cm), Catalog #13-014


PAULINE-ROSE HAGO, Ömie face paint design for dancing, fruit of the sihe tree, tattoo design and spots of the wood-boring grub, natural pigments on barkcloth, 54 x 21� (136 X 53.5 cm), Catalog #13-009


LILA WARRIMOU, design of the ceremonial shell necklace, pig’s hoofprints and spots of the wood-boring grub, natural pigments on barkcloth, 61 x 32” (155 X 80 cm), Catalog #12-045


JESSE BUJAVA, fruit of the tree and teeth of the fish, natural pigments on barkcloth, 52 x 27� (131 X 68 cm), Catalog #12-071


BOTHA KIMMIKIMMI, Ömie mountains, eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary and spots of the wood-boring grub, natural pigments on barkcloth, 46 x 33” (116.5 x 85 cm), Catalog #12-011


LILLIAS BUJAVA, tailbone of the lizard, mountain pine tree, bush rope, beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill, leaf markings and teeth of the fish, natural pigments on barkcloth, 68 x 23” (173 x 58 cm), Catalog #12-070


MALA NARI, Ömie mountains, eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, river stones and tattoo design of the bellybutton, 34 x 32� (87 x 82 cm), Catalog #13-008


Albert Sirimi Aspasia Gadai Botha Kimmikimmi Celestine Warina Jessie Bujava Lila Warrimou Lillias Bujava Linda-Grace Savari Mala Nari Pauline-Rose Hago Stella Üpia

CELESTINE WARINA, nest and eggs of Lawe’s Parotia, 54 x 28” (136 x 71 cm), Catalog #12-047


Front Cover: LINDA-GRACE SAVARI, pig’s tusks and teeth, fruit of the mustard plant, fern leaves and beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill, natural pigments on barkcloth, 43 x 30” (109 x 75 cm)

On view 14 March - 30 April 2014 Sun Valley, USA 391 First Avenue North Ketchum, ID 83340 USA info@harveyartprojects.com | Phone (208) 309-8676

Back Cover: Ömie children Photo Credit: Brennan King 2013

Copyright 2014 Harvey Art Projects USA & Ömie Artists Inc.

HARVEYARTPROJECTS.COM

Ömie USA 2014  

Harvey Art Projects’ second exhibition by the internationally celebrated Ömie Women Artists brings together exquisite new barkcloth painting...

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