Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art
4 April 2012


(c.1910 - 1996)

synthetic polymer paint on cotton duck

73.0 x 160.0 cm

inscribed verso: artist's name, date and R. Gooch cat. RG18

Private sale

Commissioned by Rodney Gooch, Alice Springs, October 1995
Sotheby's, Melbourne, 22–23 November 1999, lot 393
Galerie Boomerang, The Netherlands
Private collection, The Netherlands

Catalogue text

Emily Kngwarreye was a senior Amatyerre law woman from the community of Atneltyeye (Utopia), north-east of Alice Springs in central Australia. Although she began to paint on canvas on in her late 70s, 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 (Alhalkere). Intuitive no doubt these works are, but her intuition is founded on decades of making art for private purposes, of drawing in the soft earth, of painting on people's bodies for ritual and ceremony.

Untitled (Alhalkere), 1995, is reductive in the use of her lexicon. Layers of broad brush strokes blanket an ochre ground, the palette consisting simply of ochre and white and the many hues between, creating layers of ochre, rust, burnt orange and cream. It is the gesture, the way the paint has been applied that dominates. This painting exudes energy as the sweeping lines take your gaze across the canvas. The thick arcs created by the sweep of the artist's outstretched hand describe a broad stretch of landscape. 'This is a striking instance of body and country becoming one... a woman drawing her country within her body's reach.'1

1. Smith, T., 'Kngwarreye, Woman abstract painter', in Isaacs, J., et al, Emily Kngwarreye paintings, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1998 p. 32