“In recent years Julie Dowling has emerged as one of Australia’s most sought after and accomplished painters, and a leading light of the contemporary Indigenous art movement. The subjects of her paintings deal with the Aboriginal identity and the Indigenous perspective of Australian history as reflected in the experiences of her ancestors, her family and her people over time. Thus the emphasis on portraiture in her work; both of individuals and of groups of people where Dowling consciously merges her European-style training with Indigenous concepts of picture making. References to classical Western art, Renaissance art, the Dutch masters and Caravaggio permeate her work. Dowling’s art is at once intimately personal and universally resonant.” Michael Reid, leading Australian art market commentator, art educator, art dealer and consultant.
ABC has filmed this incredible insight into one of this generations most important artists, Julie Dowling – please view it here.
Her art is more than political, more than portraiture, and more than successful. Judith McGrath compiled this profile on Australian Art Collector’s most collectable artist 2002.
Also known by her Aboriginal name Yulyurlu, Warlpiri artist Lorna Fencer Napurrula was born in the 1920s at Yumurrpa in the Tanami Desert, which is an important Yam Dreaming site — the yam being a food staple for desert people that also has important spiritual significance. She relocated to Lajamanu on the northern fringe of the Tanami Desert in her fifties (c.1975) and began to paint in 1986 as part of a course offered at Lajamanu School (and a commitment by the community to adopt acrylic painting and nurture a painting movement).
Napurrula’s earliest works were in the traditional central desert style, which often involved a set of stylised symbols, marks and icons set among fields of dots. These works were rich in narrative, particularly those related to Yam Dreaming stories (elements of Rain and Snake Dreaming themes can also be found in her work).
Napurrula soon began individualising her style, freeing it from what was expected of Warlpiri artists. While familiar symbols (such as boomerangs and Yam root structures) continued to appear, Napurrula began applying them more intuitively, often laying motif over motif with a bold mix of colour to create works of textured beauty that evoked feeling while also paying tribute to ancestral stories. Her work as evokes “bodies of feeling”, Napurrula’s distinctive style (most evident in works post-1995) is one that, “employs ‘icons’ in looser terms than the earlier more exacting forms of iconography found in the works of other Warlpiri women”. Art Review
While Napurrula exhibited widely from the mid-90s until her death (with at least twenty solo shows and more than sixty group exhibitions) and is well represented in major collectionsthe first significant survey of her work only took place last year. It saw more than sixty paintings on paper and canvas, prints and three-dimensional works visit seven galleries and six states.