Opens March 5, 5-8pm
Beginning with a talk featuring Yaritji Young from Tjala Arts
30 Orchard Street, New York, NY, 10002
Exhibition until 14 April, 2019
Olsen Gruin is pleased to present APY Lands, a group exhibition featuring works by celebrated female Aboriginal artists from the north west of South Australia. This show comprises painted depictions of the transcendental and its transubstantiation into the material world. These works reflect a new direction in indigenous art that refers to an ancient mythology that is still pertinent and very much a part of contemporary art today.
For the indigenous peoples of Australia, Dreamtime functions as a way to remember the past, understand the present, and interpret the future. “Australian Aboriginal art was the last great movement of the 20th century, that began 60,000 years earlier,” as claimed by Robert Hughes. The artists featured in APY Lands, strive to communicate this metaphysical and spiritual world-view by illustrating the remarkable stories of Dreamtime. Exhibiting artists include Yaritji Young, Wawiriya Burton, Mona Mitakiki Shepherd, Tjimpayi Presley, Naomi Kantjuriny, Maringka Tunkin, Freda Brady, Sandra Ken, Sylvia Kanytjupai Ken, and Tjungkara Ken. APY Lands will be on view from March 5 – April 14, 2019.
Several of the works featured, are the result of a collaborative effort between the artists featured in APY Lands, who gather at Tjala Arts. Located in the Amata community, Tjala Arts is in far North-West South Australia on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. An Aboriginal owned and managed corporation, Tjala Arts is a professional art making studio known for their vibrant use of colour and energetic mark making. Works by Tjala artists have been acquired by many high-profile collectors across Australia and abroad and are held in numerous public institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Yaritji Young, one of the most prolific solo artists featured in APY Lands, focuses on the story of Tjala Tjukurpa (Honey Ant Dreaming). She paints the rock holes and landmarks of her country, entwined with icons and traditional marks that relate to inma (dance) and tjukurpa (dreaming). The twisted lines and shapes mimic tunnels and formations made by the Tjala honey ant. Her works beautifully express the energetic life that exists below the red monolith that is the Australian desert. Straying from the traditional aboriginal colour scheme of red, oranges, and yellows, Yaritjiinstead transports the viewer into a subjective synaesthetic interpretation of an already vibrant land and environment.
“When I paint, my mind travels back to when I was a child, watching my ancestors paint these stories on their bodies and on the caves. Everything I have learnt from them I am teaching my grandchildren now. Today, we have new materials and paint in new ways, but the celebration and commitment to our culture always remains the same.” Yaritji Young.
Naomi Kantjuriny, Mona Mitakiki and Tjimpayi Presley and several of the other artists have worked together to depict the Seven Sisters Story. This is a Tjukurpa Story (Creation Story) about the constellations of Pleiades and Orion. The sisters are the constellation of Pleiades and the other star Orion is said to be Nyiru or Nyirunya Nyiru; a lusty and bad man who forever chases the sisters known as the Kunkarunkara women in order to marry the eldest sister. The seven sisters travel again and again from the sky to the earth to escape Nyiru’s unwanted attentions. They turn into their human form to escape from the persistent Nyiru, but he always finds them and they flee back to the sky. As Nyiru is chasing the sisters he tries to catch them by using magic to turn into the most tempting kampurarpra (bush tomatoes) for the sisters to eat and the most beautiful Ili (fig) tree for them to camp under. However, the sisters are too clever for Nyiru and continue to outwit him. Every now and again, though, one of the women falls victim to his ways. Eventually the sisters fly back into the sky to escape Nyiru, reforming the constellation.
Dreamtime can seem somehow to reanimate memories of an ancient time that were never lived. Simultaneously, it can catalyze a futuristic abstraction of reality. Freda Brady’s Seven Sisters, depicts the Tjukurpa Story through traditional dot painting. The dotted orange, yellow, red, and brown lines move freely through the painting; creating a feeling of immense dynamism. The colors and architecture of the piece are reminiscent of the earth, which the sisters travel in order to escape Nyiru. However, the sinuous interconnected dotted lines emote a cosmic intention. Brady therefore, harmoniously combines both the terrestrial and celestial elements of the same story through a division and confluence of subject matter and form. This unique art refers to a timeless understanding of the earth and the stars. Its stories are sometimes a different kind of mythological language that we see repeated in other spiritual texts even from the Aztecs or the Ancient Greeks. While this work also acts as maps or paths where the land collides with the universe, it contains elements that allude to certain art throughout history. There is a ‘Tache’ in some of the painterly and structural aspects of this work that parallel the spontaneous qualities of Abstract Expressionism, which was essentially a NY art movement from the middle of the last century. The content of this work whilst drawing direct references to landscape and storytelling, can be considered as holding a very pertinent place in 21st century conceptual art.
Yaritji Young (b. c1954) has been painting at Tjala Arts (formerly Minymaku Arts) since late 2000. She is a senior law woman and is committed to fostering law and culture. Yaritji was born in Ernabella, South Australia and now resides at Rocket Bore, a homeland north of Amata in Nortern Australia. Her works are drawn from the Tjala (Honey Ant) Dreaming. Yaritji Young is an emerging artist who demonstrates great skill.
Mona Mitakiki Shepherd (b. c1954) started painting with Tjurma Arts and Crafts back in 1998. After a long break she returned to painting at Tjala Arts (formerly Minymaku Arts) in mid 2003. Mona’s husband, Michael Mitakiki also painted briefly at the art centre. After the death of her husband in May 2005 Mona changed her surname from Mitakiki to Shepherd for cultural reasons. Pitjantjatjara people are not allowed to see or hear the name of the deceased.
Naomi Kantjuriny (b. 1944) is a prolific painter who has been working at Tjala Arts (formerly Minymaku) Arts since 2001. An excellent hunter, basket maker and wood carver, Naomi took to painting with remarkable ease. She is recognized for her knowledge of the Tjukurpa stories of the area and whilst she is a new and emerging artist, her technique is well developed. Naomi’s mother’s Dreaming is Malu or kangaroo. Naomi is also a Ngangkari – traditional healer. Ngangkari provide traditional healing treatments and practices of the mind, body and spirit. They are exactly like Western doctors and equal to doctors in their effectiveness for the Aboriginal people of her region.
Tjimpayi Presley (b. 1967) is the daughter of Tjampawa Katie Kawiny who is also a painter at Tjala Arts. Tjimpayi is well known for her ‘punu’ woodblocks, a process that involves burning the design into a wooden surface using hot wire. However, she is also a talented painter and has recently started making beautiful work on canvas.
Maringka Tunkin (b. c1954) grew up in Amata where she attended Primary school. She went to boarding High School at Yurara in Alice Springs. Maringka previously painted at the Tjurma Homelands Art and Craft centre which was situated also in Amata. At Tjurma she painted on canvas and created pieces of batik. Maringka returned to painting in 2007 when she joined the other artists at Tjala Arts.
Freda Brady (b. 1961) was raised in the Amata community. She is the daughter of Paniny Mick and Mick Wikilyiri, both senior and highly regarded painters at Tjala Arts. Freda began her artistic career in 2002 creating batik. More recently, Freda has committed to her painting practice with great vigor and is an emerging artist with impressive skill.
Sandra Ken (b. c1954) lives in Amata with her husband Dick and four children. Sandra’s first art experiences were working and learning to paint in the craft room at Tjurma homelands Arts and Craft centre in Amata. Sandra’s painting further developed with the opening of Minymaku Arts, and she continues her practice with vigour at Tjala Arts. She is particularly excited about the large-scale collaborative works she paints with her four sisters; Yaritji Young, Tjungkara Ken, Maringka Tunkin, and Freda Brady.
Tjungkara Ken (b. c1954) is a young and dedicated artist, with a remarkable depth of talent and expertise. Tjungkara started painting casually in 1997 but increased her commitment to her work in 2008 and continues her practice with vigour. Her mother’s country is Wingalina and her father’s country is Amata. Tjungkara depicts this country and its tjukurpa (dreaming) in her paintings with her distinctive style. Mountain ranges, rock holes and elements of the land are all illustrated throughout her detailed work. She is well known for her sophisticated use of colour and striking works depicting the Seven Sisters story.
Wawiriya Burton (b. 1925) is a senior woman from the Amata community. In her painting, Wawiriya tells the story of her father’s country near Pipalyatjara, west of Amata in South Australia.
Sylvia Kanytjupai Ken (b. 1965) has been painting at Tjala Arts (formerly Minymaku Arts) since 1999. She is a committed and focused artist with exceptional skill and talent. Her mother Iluwanti and father Brenton also paint at Tjala Arts, as do her daughters Serena Heffernan and Anastine Ken.
For further information please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1.646.525.6213. All images are subject to copyright. Gallery approval must be granted prior to reproduction.