Kathleen Petyarre


Artist Biography

Kathleen Petyarre born 1940, is an Australian Aboriginal artist. Her art refers directly to her country and her Dreamings. Petyarre’s paintings have occasionally been compared to the works of American Abstract Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, and even to those of J.M.W. Turner. She has won several awards and is considered one of the ‘most collectible artists in Australia’. Her works are in great demand at auctions. However, due to ongoing health problems, she has now all but retired from painting.
Petyarre’s technique consists of layering very fine dots of thin acrylic paint onto the canvas, evoking the Aboriginal custom of ceremonial body painting, to carefully construct abstract landscapes that reveal a remarkable depth when viewed up close.

Most of Petyarre’s paintings detail the journeys of her Dreaming Ancestor, Arnkerrth, the Old Woman Mountain Devil, and are indicative of the Aborigines’ traditional land navigation skills. She adopts an aerial view typical of her region’s artworks to reconstruct memorised landscapes and express her Dreamings as “a barely tangible, shadowy palimpsest, overwritten, as it were, by the surface colours and movement”. She describes her paintings as “like looking down on my country during the hot time, when the country changes colour… I love to make the painting like it’s moving, travelling, but it’s still our body painting, still our ceremony.”


*Please note, images above are for reference only

Artist Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions:

2008 Kathleen Petyarre, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2004 Old Woman alex award , Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2003 Ilyenty – Mosquito Bore, Recent Paintings, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2001 Genius of Place: The Work of Kathleen Petyarre, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia[5]
2000 Landscape, Truth and Beauty – Recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
1999 Recent Painting by Kathleen Petyarre, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney, Australia
1998 Arnkerrthe – My Dreaming, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne Australia
1996 Kathleen Petyarre: Storm in Aknangkerre Country, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Group Exhibitions:

2007 Gallery Anthony Curtis, Boston MA, USA[6]
Galerie Rigassi, Bern, Switzerland

2006 Prism Contemporary Australian Art, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan[7]
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA
Galerie Clément, Vevey, Switzerland

2002 Gallerie Commines, Paris, France
2000 New Directions in Contemporary Aboriginal Painting, Songlines Gallery, San Francisco, USA
Kathleen Petyarre, Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia
1995 Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany
1991 Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland
1989 Aboriginal Art from Utopia, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia

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