Emily Kam Kngawarray (Emily Kame Kngwarreye)(circa 1916-1996)
Untitled (Alagura/Alhalkere), 1989 inscribed 'Emily' and bears catalogue number B154 on the reverse synthetic polymer paint on canvas 150 x 120cm (59 1/16 x 47 1/4in).
PROVENANCE: Originally sold by Donald & Janet Holt of Delmore Downs through Aboriginal Arts & Crafts, Perth (then managed by Mary Macha's sister) Purchased from Mary Macha, Subiaco, Perth, W.A. in May 1994 The Laverty Collection, Sydney
EXHIBITED: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Alhalkere-Paintings from Utopia, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 20 February - 13 April 1998; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 May - 19 July 1998; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 8 September - 22 November 1998; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 13 February - 26 April 1999, cat. no. 12 A Century of Collecting 1901>2001 curated by Nick Waterlow, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, 29 March - 28 April 2001 Ngurra Kutu: Going Home Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, September 2001 - June 2002 Utopia: the Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, curated by Margo Neale for the National Museum of Australia, Canberra at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan, 26 February - 13 April 2008; the National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan, 28 May - 28 July 2008; National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 22 August - 12 October 2008 Remembering Forward: Australian Aboriginal Painting since 1960 / Malerei Der Australischen Aborigines seit 1960, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany, 20 November 2010 - 20 March 2011, cat. no. 6 Laverty 2, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, 14 May - 14 August 2011
LITERATURE: Margo Neale, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Alhalkere-Paintings from Utopia, exh. cat., Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery; South Yarra, Victoria: Macmillan, 1998, cat. no. 12, pl.7, p.6 (illus.) and fig. 31 p.25 [illus. (detail)] Nick Waterlow, A Century of Collecting 1901-2001, exh. cat., Sydney: Ivan Dougherty Gallery, University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts, 2001, no. 27, p.16 (illus.) Kasper Konig (ed.) et al., Remembering Forward: Australian Aboriginal Painting since 1960 / Malerei Der Australischen Aborigines seit 1960, exh. cat., London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2010, cat. no. 6, p.31 (illus.) Philip Batty, 'Selling Emily: confessions of a white advisor', Artlink, vol.27, no.2, 2007, p.68 (illus.) Margo Neale and Benita Tunks (eds.), Utopia: the Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, exh. cat., Tokyo: Yomiuri Shinbun Tōkyō Honsha, 2008, p.114 (illus.), p.234 (Japanese edition); Canberra: National Museum of Australia Press, 2008, p.81 (illus.) (English edition) 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, p.88 (illus.) 'Tradition trifft auf Moderne' by Hirmer Verlag, Herbst magazine, 2010, p.39 (illus). Stadt Revue Kolnmagazin (Museum Ludwig's magazine), 23 June 2010, p.98 (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, p.94 (illus.) Djon Mundine, 'Travelling from Utopia', Art Monthly, issue 250, June 2012, p.39 (illus.)
The meteoric painting career of Emily Kame Kngwarreye commenced with works such as this, painted within the first year in which she took to the medium of acrylic on canvas. The painting features a loose grid or matrix of lines joining circular nodes; the grid resonates with the conventional compositional structures of desert paintings where the configuration represents sacred sites joined by the journey lines of the ancestors. A variation on this grid structure in a painting from the same time can be seen in Awelye, 1989-90 in the Holmes à Court Collection (Carrigan, B. [ed.], Utopia: Ancient Cultures, New Forms, Heytesbury and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1998, pp. 34-5, illus.).
Kngwarreye used variations of the grid to underscore the compositions of many of her later works, to the point where the grids are subsumed in fields of coloured dotting. Whereas in most of these paintings the combination of line and dot refers to her main totem, the pencil yam, kam, its seeds and the tracery of the roots of the plant underground, this work is exceptional in that the matrix refers to the root system of a grass, atherrk (athugura) which is edible in the dry season, while the dots represent katyerr, the desert raisin. By the time she passed away in September 1996, Kngwarreye had come to be regarded as one of Australia's major painters of the late twentieth century. Patrick McCaughey, in his opening address at the Fred Williams retrospective exhibition Infinite Horizons at the National Gallery of Australia in August 2011, listed her among the most important painters of the Australian landscape, on a par with Williams, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd. This for an artist whose paintings were not seen publically until 1980 when she was working with the Utopia Women's Batik Group. More accolades followed. In 1992 Kngwarreye was awarded an Australian Artists Creative Fellowship in recognition of her contribution to the cultural heritage of the nation, and her work was chosen to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale of 1997 along with that of Yvonne Koolmatrie and Judy Watson. Emily Kame Kngwarreye's achievements were recognized in two major retrospective exhibitions of her work which included Untitled (Alalgura/Alhalkere), 1989: one organized by the Queensland Art Gallery in 1998 that toured Australia; another by the National Museum of Australia that toured Japan in 2008.
This painting is sold with accompanying Delmore Gallery documentation.