Kudditje Kngwarreye

DOB: 1938 – 2017
BORN: Lallguora, Utopia, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP: Anmatyerre
COMMUNITY: Utopia, NT

Kudditji Kngwarraye

Born around 1928, Kudditji Kngwarreye, the younger brother of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye, had a traditional bush upbringing in the Utopia region before starting a long career as a stockman and mine worker. An Anmatyerre elder and custodian of many important Dreamings, Kudditji was inspired by the work coming out of Papunya to paint his own Dreamings, telling of the travels and law of the Emu ancestors.

Starting in 1986, his precisely dotted Emu Dreaming paintings, featuring ranks of coloured roundels and other ‘hieroglyphs’ on a checked or dotted background, became sought after by major galleries in the Northern Territory. Breaking out of this style after some years, Kudditji’s work became far looser and more ‘abstract’, and some commentators have seen a strong similarity with his sister Emily’s work – but it is not clear who was the first to set out on this path. The demand for his earlier, detailed style, however, moved Kudditji to return to it, and it was only in 2003 that he began to exhibit the extraordinary, saturated colour paintings that have seen his reputation grow nationally and internationally.

The new paintings, in fact, have several styles, and Kudditji has explored size of canvas as well as form in these intense, beautiful works. A sense of immense space can be felt in the “My Country” paintings, where massive blocks of stippled colour are laid alongside each other, sometimes using only two colours, while in other paintings a quilt of juxtaposed colours produces a landscape effect.

Geoffrey Bardon, speaking of Papunya artists, writes that they “dreamed [their] marvellous spirit-place back” so that “the land became a great song of the place where a spirit could be in its own supernatural grace; the ‘My Country’ (Homeland) Dreamings were the painters’ affirmation of both themselves and their ancestors” (Papunya, p.54). Clearly, the same can be said of Kudditji Kngwarreye.

  • Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs
  • Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
  • Macquarie University, NSW
  • Guilleman and Sordello Collection, France
  • R. M. Barokh Antiques, Los Angeles, USA
  • Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
  • Sarrita King Collection
  • Corrigan Collection, Sydney
  • Luciano Benetton Collection, Venice
  • Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland
  • Artbank, Sydney

2019 Montalto Sculpture Prize, Red Hill South, VIC – Finalist
2001 Cape York Art Awards – 1st Prize paintings in general for an acrylic on canvas painting “Sorrow”
2000 Art of Place Awards, Canberra – work selected for exhibition
1999 Cape York Art Awards – 1st Prize in Works on Paper for etching on chine colle “Spirits Dance”

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2016 Singing Up Country – Kudditji Kngwarreye, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2016 Kudditji Kngwarreye – A master painter there is only one of him, Mandel Aboriginal Art Gallery, Melbourne
2014 Kudditji Kngwarreye, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2014 Earth + Sky, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2013 Kudditji: Landscapes in the Family Tradition, Booker-Lowe Gallery, Houston
2013 Colours of Dreaming | Kudditji Kngwarreye, Mitchell Fine Art, Brisbane
2013 The Master Returns, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 Kudditji Kngwarreye, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 COLOURFIELD: new paintings, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2010 Kudditji Kngwarreye, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 Kudditji Kngwarreye, Palya Proper Fine Art, Alice Springs
2009 Kudditji Kngwarreye: Pastels, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2008 My Country, Kudditji Kngwarreye, Central Art, Alice Springs
2008 30 Emu Dreamings, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2008 My Country, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2006 Masterwork, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2006 Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen
2006 My Country, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2006 Two Fields, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2005 Waterhole Aboriginal Art, Danks Street, Sydney
2005 New Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2005 Colours in Country, Art Mob, Hobart
2004 My Country, New Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2004 My Country, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2004 Waterhole Aboriginal Art, Sofitel Wentworth Hotel Exhibition, Sydney
2003 New Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
1999 New Paintings, Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne
1992 Tjukurrpa, Museum fur Volkerkunde, Basel, Switzerland
1991 Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs

Selected Group Exhibitions
2021 Voyage across Aboriginal Australia – Founders’ Favourites, Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland
2021 Desert Colours 2021, Incinerator Art Space, Sydney
2021 Top Ten Artists 2020, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2021 Big Names Little Paintings, Cooee Art Gallery, Sydney
2020 Colours of Spring, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2020 Kudditji Kame Kngwarreye & Idris Murphy, Mitchell Fine Art Gallery, Brisbane
2020 Still in the Desert, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
2020 Top Ten – Our Most Popular Artists 2019, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Defining Tradition | the colourists, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Large Showroom; Large Works, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2019 Spirit of Place – Amanda Westley & Kudditji Kngwarreye, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2018 Welcome TWO (Thompson Street), FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2017 Gems from the Stockroom, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2016 Spoilt for Choice – a director’s choice exhibition, Kate Gwen Gallery, Sydney
2015 Signs and Traces, Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Cultural Institute Zamek, Poznan
2015 From the Vaults – highlights from the Collectors Gallery, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2014 Vast Interiors, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2012 The Colourists: Kudditji Kngwarreye and Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2013 Sky and Desert, Foundation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Motiers
2010 Stories from the Centre, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 Utopia: Eastern Anmatyerre Artists, Neo Gallery, Brisbane
2009 Size Matters, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2009 Aboriginal Art, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney
2009 Reves Aborigenes, Musee Arts et Histoire de Bormes-Les-Mimosas, Bormes-Les-Mimosas
2008 From the Air, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2008 Black & White: Inspired by Landscape, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2006 New Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2005 Big Country, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2005 Fresh from the Central Desert, Canberra Grammar School, Canberra
2004 Two Senior Men, Art Mob Gallery, Hobart
2004 Australian Exhibition Centre, Chicago
2004 Heartbeat – Living Country, Wenthworth Hotel, Sydney
2004 Spirit of Colour, Depot Gallery, Sydney
2002 The Contemporaries, Contemporary Artspace, Brisbane
2000 Mia Mia, Aboriginal Art Gallery, Melboure
1999 Chapel Off, Chapel Gallery, Melbourne
1992 Tjukurrpa, Museum fur Voelkerkunde, Basel, Switzerland
1991 Central Australian Aboriginal Art & Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs

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