Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Soakage Bore #503

Acrylic on canvas
127 x 60 cm
(50 x 23.6 in)


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The characteristic dots and simple linear structures of batik-making, that dominated the surface in emily’s first few years of painting on canvas, gave way to large fields of dots throughout 1992-93. Dots floated, freely filling large canvases and veiling traceries of lines that are fully or partially obscured below the surface.These linear patters or under-tracking, like subway maps, reveal links between places, people and all things. They variously and simultaneously refer to ancestral, animal and human journeys, and at other times they are described as root systems. However, they transcend the literal to signify 'whole lot', as Emily describes her work. Thus these images are both representational and abstract.

Dots are an integral stylistic element in Emily’s work. This universal human mark is a generic feature of all desert art, originating in ritual body painting and ground designs. Dots have become such an identifiable hallmark of contemporary desert art that works from the region is often simply referred to as ‘dot painting’. Whilst her work has influenced many of her contemporaries, few desert artists, either men or women, have used the dot mark as innovatively as Emily. Her dots range from fine to coarse, controlled to radical, and they sometimes appear as single dots while at other times as double or triple dots. Large dots in some works join to form lines that move, evoking the rhythem of dancing, the dynamism of growth, and the life force of nature as wind-borne seeds that scatter across the land. The changing seasons and night skies are sensed in the expansive an shifting tonalities of emily’s palette. 

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