Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art
4 April 2012


(c.1921 - 1994)

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

91.5 x 61.0 cm

inscribed verso: artist's name, size, Warlayirti Artists cat. 194/91

$15,000 - 20,000

Warlayirti Artists, Balgo Hills
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Less concerned with the mapping of ancestral tracking and sites and differing in iconography and palette to the Western Desert male artist, the women of Balgo Hills produce work whose thematic concerns are underpinned by the same engagement with custodial ownership. With associated songs, dances, mythology and designs, women's responsibilities within the social structures manifest in paintings through the presence of food-gathering symbols overlayed with brilliant stippling and textural fields of colour. The paintings produced by senior artists such as Milliga Napaltjarri reflect an engagement with colour and tone whilst also containing coded under-layers of symbolic meaning. As noted by Senior curator Judith Ryan, 'Milliga Napaltjarri uses an informal, layered technique to advantage- body designs for women's rituals are painted first as an under layer, which is then concealed by tight clusters of textural dots, applied in loose, uneven manner, free of crafted artifice'.1 Purrunga, 1991 is highlighted by areas of colour emerging from the dark ground. Clusters of massed yellow and gold dotting is contrasted by variegated dots of red, green and white invoking the fruiting of plants and berries concealed within the seedlings and grasses.

1. Ryan, J., Images of Power: Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1993, p. 92