Duelling exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria present art that erases Australia’s ugly history, with Indigenous art that speaks to it
John Glover can’t paint eucalypts. Their branches twist elegantly into the sky, bearing none of the scars, broken branches and sharp angles that mark the trees in real life.
I’m looking at the trees in the artwork to avoid looking below them. There, black figures, depicting Palawa people as Glover imagined they would have lived in Tasmania before the decade-long Black War, are etched out with primitive crudeness. Like many other depictions of Aboriginal people by European artists from this era, they are caricatures more than people.