Untitled Document


KIWIRRKURA WOMEN – Utopia Art, Sydney

Full of grace, pride and conviction the women of Kiwirrkura are a cultural and creative force. Their union is bound by kinship and a profound knowledge of country.

The significant sites that punctuate the vast sandhills throughout the Kiwirrkura area and beyond have inspired a loose group aesthetic, one that allows experimentation and evolution. Now, for the first time, the paintings of the female artists of Kiwirrkura are being exhibited in a collective context.

Rising from the shadow of the male Papunya Tula painters, a spirited new wave of artists has surfaced. Lorna Napanangka, daughter of founding shareholder Timmy Payungka Tjapangati, emerged as a bold exception among the Kiwirrkura artists. Her eccentric grided maps provided a stark contrast to the early brightly coloured, fluid works of the female painters. Lorna’s willingness to persevere laid the foundations for this new wave, with the Art Gallery of NSW acquiring a large-scale work from a solo exhibition at Utopia Art Sydney.

Yakari Napaltjarri, a wiry woman with a beaming smile, also played a significant role in the early stylistic changes in the Kiwirrkura women’s work. Her rippling strings of parallel lines established a subtle linear aesthetic that many of the other women aspired to.

Yukultji Napangati quietly asserted herself as a gifted artist and leader. Committed to painting, she poured herself into her art after the death of her husband Charlie Ward Tjakamarra. Depicting sandhills and edible tubers, her moray-like linear structures possess a delicate atmospheric sensibility.

In 2005 Yukultji was selected to exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Arts annual PRIMAVERA exhibition. Her selection signalled an individual success while also highlighting the dynamic work emanating from Kiwirrkura. The recognition of Yukultji’s talent sparked a new artistic energy and competition among the women at Kiwirrkura. Ambitious and strong-minded, the women devoted themselves to painting, striving to emulate her success. Artists requested smaller brushes to achieve their fine intricate drawings. Gossip revolved around who was the most productive and talented painter.

Artists such as Doreen Reid Nakamarra blossomed in this creative environment. A proud and resilient woman, Doreen immersed herself in the process of painting. Rising and falling like the desert terrain, her works hum and pulsate with a rhythm as constant as the songs and dances of her country. This year Doreen was selected for the National Indigenous Art Triennial 2007: Culture Warriors exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

Yinarupa Nangala’s sparse compositions depict sites of significance in a delicate sea of translucent dots. Her works reveal an innate sense of rhythm and profound spatial ability.

Other artists in this exhibition include Kim Napurrula, Yalti Napangati, Takariya Napaltjarri, Monica Napaltjarri and Mantua Nangala, who have each taken the minimalism of the previous generation to new and exciting places. United by the country that surrounds them, and a collective aesthetic sensibility, the Kiwirrkura women embody the future of Papunya Tula Artist Pty Ltd.

Sarita Quinlivan, 2007.

Please do not hesitate to contact Utopia Art should you require any further information. (02) 9699 2900