Kirriwirri, 2007 natural earth pigments on plywood 180 x 180cm (70 7/8 x 70 7/8in).
PROVENANCE: Painted at Bidyadanga, Western Australia Purchased from Raft Artspace, Darwin in September 2007
EXHIBITED: Winpa works by the Yulparitja artists of Bidyadanga, Raft Artspace, Darwin, 11 August - 1 September 2007, cat no. 8 Paintings from Remote Communities: Indigenous Australian Art from the Laverty Collection, Sydney, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, 5 July - 31 August 2008 The Colin and Elizabeth Laverty collection - a selection of Indigenous and non-Indigenous art exhibition, Geelong Gallery, Geelong, 18 February to 15 April 2012
LITERATURE: Colin Laverty and Elizabeth Laverty et al., Beyond Sacred: Recent Painting from Australia's Remote Aboriginal Communities - the collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty, Melbourne: Hardie Grant Books, 2008, pp.168-169 (illus.) Colin Laverty and Elizabeth Laverty et al., Beyond Sacred: Australian Aboriginal Art - the collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty, Edition II, Melbourne: Kleimeyer Industries, 2011, pp.170-171 (illus.)
The multi-paneled paintings of Jan Billycan are the seminal pieces in her oeuvre. Watching her at work, she would begin to depict a story on one panelher mind full of ideas and memories of the place of her birth Kirriwirri, of travelling from waterhole to waterhole in the desertthen run out of room and continue the narrative journey on another panel, then another. The largest of the multi-paneled paintings to date, All the Jila, 2006, is in collection of the National Gallery of Australia and featured in the first National Indigenous Triennial in 2007 (see Croft, B.L., Culture Warriors: National Indigenous Triennial, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2007, p.68, illus.). It is in the large paintings that Jan Billycan captures the epic details of her personal and cultural histories that are laid bare in a visceral, gestural style.
The landscape and bodyscape are continually merged in Jan Billycan's paintings. She raises issues of identity and the metaphysical nature of things, while playing on the idea that the land and self as one. Jan does not see the human form as differing from the land; they are one and reflect each other. The 'rib cages' in her paintings become sprawling 'tali' or sand dunes. The 'intestines' are like walking tracks through the desert. Jan's paintings have the appearance of a naïve rawness that belies their emotional sophistication, and her complex understanding of the physical world. Jan walks the boundary of what is acceptable in art. She mixes colours directly on the canvas, working lines repeatedly until they have a density and a unique hue that reflects the individuality of each single sand dune in the desert or every single bone in the body.
Jan Billycan is an important healer and medicine woman and highly respected elder amongst the desert people near Punmu, Pungurr, and Kunawarritji, and in the communities of Broome and Bidyadanga. She has been represented in several major exhibitions in Australia and abroad, most recently in Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 2010. In 2011 Jan Billycan won the Western Australian Artist Award at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
This painting is sold with accompanying Short St Gallery documentation.