Metro Gallery is pleased to offer, for private sale, a beautiful and elegant creation by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an untitled painting from the artist’s celebrated Awelye, or Body Paint, series.
Created in 1994, the painting was commissioned by Rodney Gooch for Utopia Gallery and bears catalogue number 84-1195.
This is the first time in more than fifteen years that the painting is offered on the art market. Metro Gallery is privileged to have been entrusted with brokering the sale of this rare and important work.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye is recognised as one of Australia’s most significant indigenous artists. Of the Anmatyerre language group, Emily grew up in Alhalkere, the site of the present-day Utopia, approximately 250 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs.
As an elder and custodian, Emily’s paintings share ancestral legends, ceremonial designs, as well as an interpretation, through her community’s traditional and unique visual language, of the local flora and fauna, which provided indispensable sources of sustenance for the artist and her community.
Emily began sharing her ancestral stories and ceremonial designs with the wider world initially through participation in the Utopia Women’s Batik Group, an important communal project, which was founded in 1977. It allowed Emily to explore artistic possibilities and evolve her individual visual vocabulary.
Emily’s introduction to acrylic painting, which took place in the late 1980s under the guidance of Rodney Gooch, resulted in the bold and rapid development of her inimitable and highly recognisable style, for which she remains widely celebrated.
Two seminal exhibitions, curated by Margo Neale in 1998 and 2008 respectively, introducedEmily’s paintings to the wider world, and resulted in the artist’s international recognition.Today, her works are to be found in all National and State galleries across Australia, numerous regional and tertiary collections, as well as important public and corporate collections abroad.
The linear paintings from her Awelye, or Body Paint series, remain among the most elegant and intimate creations. As a senior custodian of cultural sites, she was entrusted with ceremonial decoration of women’s bodies. Applied to the women’s upper chest, breasts and arms, and utilising rich desert ochres, the designs convey women’s intricate rituals within the context of the Dreamtime stories and the community’s social structures.
The fluid and organic linear patterning within the work echoes Emily’s ceremonial decorations on women’s bodies. Black, white, and orange pigments refer to the natural ochres Emily would have used in traditional ceremonial body decorations. Green and yellow accents, which reflect the native flowers and foliage, would have been originally created from white ochres tinted with the sap of local plants and insect excretions. The texturality of broad, sweeping brushstrokes is reminiscent of the artist’s pigment application on the skin with fingers or grass brushes.