Important Work by Australia's Most Celebrated First Nation's Female Artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Leads Auction

After beginning her painting career at nearly 80 years of age, Australian Indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye shot to international stardom at the beginning of the 1990s. In 1993, Stefano Spaccapietra, a now retired Swiss professor and collector, discovered her work along with that of her contemporaries.

Acquired by Professor Spaccapietra in 1998 from a Sotheby's auction of 'Aboriginal Art', Bonhams is now offering Nterkwe - Emu Tucker II, 1991 as art of the Important Australian Art auction taking place on 11 May in Sydney. Painted at Delmore Downs, a large cattle station located some three hours' drive outside of Alice Springs in the centre of Australia, the painting is a key example from the artist's oeuvre. Offered with an estimate of AU$120,000–150,000, the work has been in Switzerland for the last 24 years.

With its delicate layers of white and ochre dots, the underlying trace-work of lines indicate the grazing pattern of the mythological emu that travelled throughout the artist's country in creation storeys. Janet Holt, the artist's friend and art dealer of many years noted, "This work was painted in January, when anticipation of summer storms is high, and most food sources are dry and brittle underfoot. This time factor is quite significant, for her work is continuously being tempered by the changing tonal and textural qualities of the desert as it moves through differing seasonal and weather patterns.

Emily Kngwarreye's ceremonial activities at Alalgura, are based on the women's belief that they are helping 'grow up' the country's food and human resources."

Francesca Cavazzini, Senior Specialist of Aboriginal Art, commented: "This is such a wonderful example to have returning to Australia for auction. It is always a privilege to handle works by the late and great Emily Kngwarreye whose artistic abilities transformed how we see and understand the Australian landscape."

5 April


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