Emily Kame Kngwarreye

1910-1996

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an elder of the Alhalkere tribe in Australia, did not begin to make art until she was in her late seventies.  She first created cotton and silk batiks but got tired of all the labor they involved.  She then moved from batik to painting on canvas.  In 1988, she showed her acrylic paintings for the  first time.

Her artwork defies traditional Aboriginal paintings in that she created her own artistic style using dots of varying sizes and colors, massed together or even lying on top of one another in distinct patterns.  These paintings were smaller versions of the large ground paintings usually associated with women’s ceremonies.

She went through many different styles as she began in 1991 to join dots into lines and  then in 1993 to add color into her paintings.  In 1995, she ended her color phase and painted with plain stripes that crossed the canvas.  These stripes referenced yam tracks, chosen because yams are an important source of food for Aboriginal people.  Her paintings began to resemble American abstract expressionist paintings as more and more thinner lines criss-crossed the canvas.

She was included in the National Pavilion in the 1997 Venice Biennial.

More here.

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