Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art
18 May 2011


(c.1910 - 1996)

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

164.0 x 228.0 cm

inscribed verso: artist’s name, 'Rodney Gooch’ and Mulga Bore Artists cat. 4892

$120,000 - 150,000
Sold for $204,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 20 - 18 May 2011, Melbourne

Mulga Bore Artists, Alice Springs
Hugh Jamieson Collection
Private collection, New South Wales


Emily Kame Kngwarreye: Alhalkere: Paintings from Utopia, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 20 February - 13 April 1998; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 May - 19 July 1998; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 8 September - 22 November 1998, pp. 106-107 pl. 67, cat. 54 (illus.), p. 43 (illus., detail) (label attached verso)
Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, National Museum of Art, Osaka, 26 February - 13 April 2008; National Art Centre, Tokyo 28 May - 28 July 2008, pp. 149, 162, cat. C-10 (illus.)

Catalogue text

Emily Kame Kngwarreye was a senior Amatyerre law woman from the community of Atneltyeye, Utopia, north-east of Alice Springs in central Australia. Although she did not begin to paint on canvas until in her late 70’s, her participation in ceremony and a lifetime of traditional cultural practice provided the basis of her artistic production. Her paintings are a tribute to the land where she was born (Alhalkerre).

In the 1990s Emily Kame Kngwarreye emerged as one of Australia’s leading painters and her works were sought after on an unprecedented scale. Kngwarreye’s brush strokes revealed a strength and sureness of hand that delivered an exuberance of gesture. Her paintings were constructed of various elements that over time were added to or eliminated from the surface of the canvas. Underlying grids structure the compositions, sequences of dots aligned between or over lines, dashes and linear marks, meandering lines, and areas of dots applied on dots that allow a build-up of layers of colour. These elements constitute the artist’s lexicon and are used separately or in varying combinations thus allowing her work to evolve and be constantly fresh.

This vibrant painting belongs to a group of works produced between the beginning of 1992 and the end of 1993 that have been described as her ‘high-colourist period’. This phase of production was characterised by a succession of intensely bright paintings painted with a multi-colour palette. In this work, painted for Rodney Gooch’s Mulga Bore artists in early 1992, irregular shapes pulsate with intuitive combinations of hot pinks, citric oranges, deep blues and maroons colliding together and contained by the rectangular shape of the canvas. These blocks of colour are formed by building up layers of dots resulting in solid forms, a deviation from her earlier more pointillist application of dots where each defined layer of dates was expressed in the canvas. This period is also a time when her mark making became looser and more expressive. Kngwarreye’s expression in paint was less inhibited, lines and dots were blurred into expansive gestures as blocks of colour replaced dots and sinuous lines.