Dreamtime travels of two men 1989 inscribed 'Waringarri Aboriginal Arts/1400x1000mm S-1829/ROVER THOMAS/AP 1851' verso natural earth pigment and bush gum on canvas 100.0 x 140.0cm (39 3/8 x 55 1/8in).
PROVENANCE Waringarri Aboriginal Art, Kununurra, Western Australia, cat. no. S-1829 AP 1851 Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne, 1989 The Reg Grundy AC OBE and Joy Chambers-Grundy Collection, acquired in 1989
EXHIBITED Turkey Creek: Recent Work: Rover Thomas, Paddy Jaminji, George Mung Mung, Jack Britten, Freddie Timms, Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne, 25 October - 17 November 1989 (illus.)
The subject of the painting refers to the apical ancestors of the western desert peoples, the Tingari, whose influence spread from the central to the western deserts and into the Kimberley with the migrations of desert peoples into the area. In the Dreaming, the Tingari are described as two main figures whose identity varies according to the site and the particular Dreaming that is depicted. They traverse the land followed by a large group of people and they create sacred sites and give people the civilizing attributes of law and culture. The Tingari continue to inform the initiations of young men to this day. The profound nature of their teachings belong to the esoteric realm and are not discussed in public.
Rover Thomas' connection to the Tingari was derived from his Kukatja and Wangkajunga ancestry and the country around Sturt Creek and Lake Gregory in the Tanami Desert, which lies close to his place of birth at Kunawarritji (Well 33) on the Canning Stock Route. The Tingari are referred to in a number of Thomas' paintings, including Two men dreaming, c.1985, in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales that is illustrated in Carrigan, B., Rover Thomas: I want to paint, Perth: Holmes à Court Gallery, 2003, cat. no. 5, and in Perkins, H. and M. West (eds.), One Sun, One Moon: Aboriginal Art in Australia, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2007, p.238; and Yari country, 1989, in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, illustrated in Ryan, J. and K. Akerman (eds.), Images of Power: Aboriginal art of the Kimberley, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1993, p.61.
Dreamtime travels of two men is characteristic of Rover Thomas' compositions of minimal forms that jostle one against the other and that are framed by the dotted edges of the painting. Like looking into a painting within a painting, Thomas creates painted surfaces that are Rothko-esque in nature, and that intimate a sense of spirituality, of seeing deeper into a place beyond words as befits the sanctity of the his subject, the Tingari.