AWELYE, 1990

Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art
6 October 2010

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

(c.1910 - 1996)
AWELYE, 1990

synthetic polymer paint on composition board

30.5 x 45.0 cm each

$18,000-25,000 (3)
Sold for $25,200 (inc. BP) in Auction 17 - 6 October 2010, Melbourne

Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney


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, p. 40, pl. 23a, cat. 30 (illus.)
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, p. 218 (illus.)
Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 22 August—12 October 2008, p. 230 (illus.)

Catalogue text

Emily Kngwarreye derived the lines, the main structural elements of her work, from body painting for Anmatyerre women's ceremonies or ‘Awelye'. These lines, forms and gestural marks are an essential vocabulary of decoration, painted on the breasts and body for continuing ceremony. In Awelye 1990 Kngwarreye boldly demonstrates the use of the body as a site, a surface for mark making and a location of ceremony that is integral to her visual culture.

Portraying the decoration applied to the neck, breasts and shoulders of Anmatyerre women, these three panels were painted in the first year of the artist's production. They reveal the ancestry of her subject matter and a masterly control of paint. Conversely the variegated infill dotting on each panel is a precursor of what is to come when the components of Kngwarreye's iconography, the lines and dots, become honed into a more abstract and minimal expression.