Emily Kam Kngawarray (Emily Kame Kngwarreye)(circa 1916-1996)
Wild Anooralya bears artist's name and Delmore Gallery catalogue number 92A70 on the reverse synthetic polymer paint on linen 151.5 x 121.5cm
PROVENANCE: Commissioned by Delmore Gallery, Northern Territory in January 1992 Robin Purves Gallery, Brisbane Private collection Sotheby's, Aboriginal and Oceanic Art, Sydney, 25 November 2007, lot 70 Private collection
C.f. For a related painting by the artist see Dying Wild Flowers in Summertime, 1991, in the collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, in Alan R. Dodge, State Art Collection: Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth: Art Gallery of Western Australia, 1997, p.16.
In his essay 'Kngwarreye Woman Abstract Painter' (in Isaacs, J., T. Smith, J. Ryan et al., Emily Kngwarreye Paintings, Sydney: Craftsman House, 1998, pp.24-42) the art historian Terry Smith discusses a series of paintings made by Kngawarray between late 1990 and 1993. In a section headed 'Colour Fields, Desert Storms', Smith traces a development in the artist's work to the point where colour, as in the colours found in the landscape, becomes the motivating factor behind these paintings, as well as the subject of the paintings themselves. It is the period when Kngawarray clearly revelled in the use of extravagant colour combinations and contrasts. Rather than depicting the landscape, Kngawarray's liberated use of colour embodies her experience of the physical and spiritual nature of her ancestrally inherited country, Alhalkerr.
The series of paintings evoke a range of emotional responses to the changing face of the land over the passing of the seasons. Dry Summer, 1992 (ibid. pl.24, p.88) with its layers of yellow ochre dots evokes the dustiness of a parched landscape; Merne Anooralya, 1992 (ibid. pl.26, p.90) is painted in muted cool colours, its 'spiraling forms' of dotted lines, according to Smith, suggest a digging motion lending the work a 'performative' aspect (ibid. p.33); and Spring Yam Flowers, 1992 (ibid. pl.29, p.93), painted later in the year, exudes a flush of pinks and bright yellow ochres that succinctly captures the atmosphere of a new beginning. Wild Anooralya is one of the few paintings from this period in which Kngawarray employs bright blues; these are made to glow in contrast to the patches of solid yellow and brown ochres. The combination suggests a sense of excitement and energy within the landscape, and the shimmer of ancestral presence.
Moreover, the indivisible connection between the artist and her country is made tangible in these works through the application of paint in techniques associated with those of ceremonial body painting in Wild Anooralya the underlying tracery of the yam root is subsumed beneath a layer of painted skin that is implied by the layers of dotting.