Date of Birth
Circa 1910
Date of Death
Place Of Birth
Biographical Display
Born in 1910, Kngwarreye did not take up painting seriously until she was nearly 80. She lived in the Anmatyerre language group at Alhalkere in the Utopia community, about 200 km north east of Alice Springs. For much of her later life she was mostly known for her batik work along with the rest of this community. Acrylic paintings were introduced to this community by the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) in 1988-89. An exhibition of some of the paintings of these artists' work organised by CAAMA was held in called "A Summer Project", where Kngwarreye's work got immediate attention from critics. The attention she received coincided with the worldwide art boom that occurred at this time.

Kngwarreye went through many different individual styles in her short career as a professional painter. In 1992, the dots began joining into lines with parallel horizontal and vertical stripes, representing rivers and the contours of the land, in many different colours. She began using larger brushes than previously, her paintings now consist of much larger dots than the finer, more intricate work which she did when she started.

In 1993 she began painting patches of colour and along with many dots which were like rings that were clear in the middle as seen in Alaqura Profusion (1993), made with a shaving brush that was called her 'dump dump' style which used very bright colours. The same style of rings of colour are also seen in My Mothers Country and Emu Country (1994).

The next year was an even more aesthetic and contemporary style, ending her 'colourist' phase, she began painting with plain stripes that crossed the canvas. These were at first thick stripes which often represented the lines of yam tracks as in Yam Dreaming (1994) and Bush Yam (1995); the strange growth patterns of the yam, a plant which was critical for survival in the desert, but very difficult to find. Later in 1995 her paintings start to resemble in some ways the American Abstract Expressionist paintings of Jackson Pollock with many thinner lines that criss-crossed the canvas but still on the same theme, such as in Yam Dreaming Awelye (1995) and also in black and white Yam Dreaming paintings. Several weeks before her death she painted many canvases over a 3 day period in 1996, using a very thick brush such as in Body Paint (1996).
Solo Shows:

Coventry, Sydney, 1990, Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne 1990, 91, 92; Hogarth Gallery, Sydney 1991; Gallery Savah, Sydney,1994, 1996, 1997.
Group Exhibitions:

Numerous group shows, including:

1990: "Contemporary Aboriginal Art", Carpenter Centre for the Visual Arts, Harvard Uni. Massachusetts, USA
1992: "Aboriginal Paintings from the Desert", touring Russia; "Crossroads, Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia", National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo
1993: "Aratjara – Australian Aboriginal Art", touring Germany, London (Haywood Gallery) and Denmark (Louisiana regional gallery)
1994: National Gallery of Victoria.


Works by this Artist