Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled, 1990 Courtesy DLan Davidson
The most comprehensive exhibition devoted to the late Australian indigenous painter Emily Kame Kngwarreye in more than two decades will open at the High Line Nine in New York next month (5-21 March). The show comprises 17 works by Kngwarreye, celebrated for her kaleidoscopic compositions that evoke the spirituality and artistic traditions of Utopia, her native desert community in Central Australia.
DLan Davidson, the art dealer and Australian indigenous art specialist who organised the exhibition, says Kngwarreye has “recontextualised the boundaries of indigenous art, elevating its purview as significant contemporary artworks”. Given the spike in the market for Australian indigenous art in the US of late, Davidson says: “We couldnt have come in with a stronger force”.
Davidson, previously the head of Aboriginal art of Sothebys Australia and Mossgreen Auctions, launched an advisory business focused on Australian indigenous art in Melbourne in 2015. “When I set up the business, the international market amounted to around 20% of the trade, but, over the last 18 months, the international market, which is predominantly US-based, amounted to around 80% of my market,” he says. “This year, although its early on, all sales have been in the US.”
More Americans are getting interested in indigenous Australian art, Davidson says, and most of the works in the exhibition have been consigned by US collectors. “While there may be reasons for this shift in the market—Sothebys reviving the category in the US is one and the combination of Steve Martins collection and Larry Gagosian is another—the reality is that the reason why the work is once again being noticed is the work itself. If it wasnt as strong as we all know that it is, it certainly wouldnt be getting the traction that it is today.”
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Endunga, 1989 Courtesy DLan Davidson
The exhibition brings together “museum-quality works from Kngwarreyes most significant periods”, according to Luke Scholes, the curator of Aboriginal art and material culture of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Some pieces were shown in the 2008 retrospective Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame KngwarreRead More – Source