Provenance: Warmun Traditional Artists, 1996. Private Collection, Paris France.
Story: Acclaimed as a cultural leader and the seminal figure in establishing the East Kimberley School, Rover Thomas is, according to almost every empirical measure, the most important and influential Aboriginal artist in the history of the movement. Born in Walmatjarri-Kukaja country, near Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route, he spent a lifetime travelling the stock routes of Australia’s far north before finally settling in Gija tribal country at Turkey Creek.
In common with central and western desert art, Rover’s work is familiarly characterized by an aerial, omnipotent perspective. His most contemplative and sombre works draw the viewer in to spacious planes of painterly applied and textured ochre. White or black dots serve only to create emphasis or to draw the eye along pathways of time and movement, following the forms of the land in which important events are encoded. In many of his works the predominant use of black conveys a startling, strangely emotional, intensity. Warm and earthy ochres, and a palpable sense of spirituality, invite the viewer on the one hand, to consider the unfolding of important events, while at the same time, purposefully sustain us in an ancient and timeless landscape.