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Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye Born: 1938 in Lallguora, Utopia,
Died: 23rd January 2017 in Alice Springs, Northern
Nationality: Eastern Anmatyerre
Other name: Goob , ” Rothko of The Bush ”
Known for: Painting, contemporary indigenous Australian artKudditji Kngwarreye (or ‘Goob’) was an Australian Aboriginal artist from the Utopia community in the Northern Territory. He was the brother (through kinship) of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye and like his skin sister Emily, was one of the most prominent and successful artists in the history of contemporary indigenous.Kngwarreye was born and lived in the Anmatyerre language group at Alhalkere in the Utopia community, about 250 km north east of Alice Springs.His country was given the name Utopia by German Settlers, who transformed the land in to cattle stations. He became a skilled stockman, which in recent years we as a nation have begun to recognise the key role Aboriginal people played in the development in the cattle industry in Australia. Kudditji witnessed the success of Albert Namatjira, and experienced the 1967 referendum. Kudditji and his countrymen had their land claim approved in 1979 and throughout the years he has felt the effects of different government policies on Indigenous people of the Northern Territory.Kngwarreye took up painting around 1986, his highly intuitive and gestural method of painting was not welcomed by galleries, and he was encouraged to paint in the fashionable style of the time, executing works with detailed infill. After seeing Emily Kame Kngwarreye catapult on to the Australian and International Art scene, Kudditji resumed his exploration in to the abstract which he continued until he ‘put down the brush’ in 2015. Kudditji participated in many international exhibitions and became known for his depictions of his Dreamings; their abstract imagery, bold colour use and intuitive interplay with space and form has cemented his name in the Aboriginal art scene.But being a ground-breaking contemporary Indigenous Australian artist was just one chapter in this man’s life story. He had a traditional bush upbringing and worked as a stockman and mine worker for many years. He was also a traditional custodian of many important Dreamings, of the land and Men’s Business ceremonial sites located in his country at Utopia Station, about 230 km north east of Alice Springs.Over the years his Dreamings have profoundly evolved into extraordinary juxtaposed colour fields, startling in both composition and hue. Harsh or soft and often surprising to the Western eye, his painterly style maps out the creation, his country, and his traditional Dreamings. While his spatial, painterly compositions have a Rothko-esque quality to them, the work of this Anmatyerre elder from the Northern Territory is clearly a unique Australian voice.
In 2006 Kudditji was named as one of the top 50 most collectible artists in Australia by Art Collector magazine. Kudditji actively painted from 1986 to 2013 when he became ill. Kudditji continued to paint until 2015 when illness prevented him from painting any longer. Two years later in January 2017 he peacefully passed away in a retirement home in Alice Springs.

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