Pikarong bears artist's name, medium, dimensions, date and Short St Gallery catalogue number 26169 on the reverse synthetic polymer paint on canvas 111 x 168cm
PROVENANCE: Painted in 2009 Short St Gallery, Broome Aboriginal and Pacific Art, Sydney Superannuation Fund of William Nuttall and Annette Reeves
Lydia Balbal lived the first 18 years of her life in the country surrounding Mangala (the site of the King Brown Snake) in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. Much like the elder Weaver Jack, Balbal and her family were forced out of the desert in 1974 due to the drought, settling in Bidyadanga (formerly known as La Grange mission) on the coast. The artist only began painting for Short St Gallery, Broome in 2007 and has already exhibited in several international shows and three Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Pikarong 2009, a depiction of the artist's birth site, is a striking example of her signature layering of dots over a blackened canvas. Balbal marks the composition with her loaded brush and continues the painterly motion until the dots become transparent. The technique of dotted lightness and darkness creates a movement within her work capturing the terrain of her traditional country.
Emily Rohr has explained the iconography within Balbal's work further suggesting that the dotting which tracks across the paintings is Piti the Mangala word for underground watercourses which are found throughout the Great Sandy Desert. Rohr states, 'these creeks and rivers feed the waterholes that sustained Balbal's people for tens of thousands of years. The linear under painting woven across these paintings are the piti as well as the walking and hunting tracks. These work like emotional veins, which underpin the complex, dotted surface she overlays in her flickering dot style. The dots merge in sections creating a complex spatial vortex, swirling veils that hover and shift over the subterranean architecture of the work.' (Emily Rohr, Piti, An Exhibition by Lydia Balbal, Outstation: Art From Art Centres, Darwin, exh.cat. 2010)
This painting is sold with accompanying Short St Gallery documentation.