Rosella Namok & Arone Meeks
Opening: 6pm Thursday 2nd of June 2011
June 2nd - July 2nd
Coo-ee Gallery is delighted to announce Rosella Namok’s first Sydney exhibition since it became her exclusive Sydney representative, with the closure of the Hogarth Galleries.
Namok, whose works first appeared on the contemporary art scene in the late 1990’s, is the most successful of Far North Queensland’s renowned Lockhart River ‘Art Gang’. Her paintings revolve loosely around several narratives of her social, physical, and natural, environment. They feature events such as hunting and fishing expeditions, weather patterns of rain and wind or the traditional stories of Kapay and Kuyan, the two opposing moieties that govern marriage relations in her Ungkum community.
Her distinctive technique imparts a ‘modern’ style. Using a rubber thong or palette knife she strips back layers of wet paint that have been built up one above another. In this way serendipitous effects are created as the different layers subtly affect each other and refine inherent opposites. In Namok’s ‘rain paintings’ shifting scapes of water and land reflect the volatile nature of the tropical weather in her country and evoke the mood during the wet season, when sheets of drenching rain and annual floods close the roads for up to five months.
Her paintings have often been referred to as evocative of the mood and fluctuations of daily life in her community. It is ironic then that Namok currently lives and works in Cairns. Since her first solo exhibition in 1999 at the Hogarth Gallery in Sydney she has achieved unparalleled prominence for an Indigenous female artist from Far North Queensland. Her attractive personality and talent made her a celebrity figure at just 23 when she was reputedly the highest grossing Australian artist of her age. In 2001 and 2002 she was listed in Art Collector’s 50 most collectable artists and has enjoyed a celebrity status since that time. It is extraordinary to think that this young artist ( still just 32 years of age) has already had more than fifteen solo exhibitions at galleries of the quality of the Hogarth Gallery in Sydney, Andrew Baker Gallery in Brisbane, and Niagara Gallery in Melbourne as well as October Gallery in London. In addition, her works has been shown in Paris, Washington, Georgia, Berlin, Austria and Slovenia. In 2000 she won the Lin Onus Youth Award at the Fifth National Indigenous Heritage Art Awards and in 2004 the High Court Centenary Art Award. The list of solo shows she has participated in is just as impressive as the number of important Australian and International collections that have acquired her work.
Though the art market has fluctuated in fortunes during the past decade, the appeal of Rosella Namok’s paintings has endured, ensuring that her ranking has slowly , but steadily, risen amongst the most successful artists of the Aboriginal art movement. By 2008 she had reached 86th position amongst all living and deceased artists and over the past 3 years her rank has risen to 75th.
Rosella Namok is the most successful contemporary/traditional painter practicing in Far North Queensland. While her work defies simple categorization its aesthetic appeal will undoubtedly prove timeless.
Arone Raymond Meeks
Arone Meeks to exhibit at Coo-ee Gallery, Bondi Beach, following a Decade’s absence from Sydney art Scene.
The exhibition, comprising new paintings, linocut prints and monoprints, opens at Coo-ee Gallery at 6pm on the 2nd of June 2011 and will be held in conjunction with a solo exhibition by renowned Lockhart River ‘Art Gang’ founder Rosella Nook.
Born in Sydney in 1957, Arone Meeks (of Kuku Midigi heritage, from the Laura region in Cape York, FNQ) grew up in Cairns before returning to Sydney to attend art school. He became a founding artist of the Boomalli Aboriginal artists collective in Sydney in 1983 and was the first indigenous Australian to be awarded a residency at Cite des Arts in Paris. Upon his return Meeks lived in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and was represented by Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery between 1988 and 2001. He participated in prestigious exhibitions in Portsmouth, Glasgow, Lyons, Toulouse, Kyoto, Tokyo, Boston and Santa Fe; published books; and held regular solo exhibitions in Australia. Following the death of his long-time partner, he returned to live in Cairns, and, since then, has rarely exhibited outside of Queensland.
Arone’s art has been profoundly shaped by the traditional cave art of Cape York, around Laura. This site is renowned for its rock art galleries filled with graceful drawings of quinkans. It is a place of Aboriginal magic and sorcery. Walking through this country Meeks feels a physical reaction to sacred country that helps forge relationships with kinship, a sense of self and ‘renewing the Dreaming’. The same barriers and protocols that govern traditional Aboriginal art do not govern his art, however. It is thoroughly contemporary/urban in style. Another profound influence on his has been the recently deceased, celebrated, North Queensland artist, Thancoupie - he has described her as ‘Athoy’- his spiritual mother. His paintings, sculpture and prints express a passion for country, spirituality, sexuality and politics. Recent works explore the connection between intellect, spirit, man and environment; and are based intuitively on the shifting definition of cultural identity. Sexuality has an influence. As a gay urban Aboriginal who lives close to his traditional tribal lands and communities, he describes his practice by saying, “I am hunting for lost pieces of myself. My art objects are like my children, sent off into the world.” And like children the finished artworks resolve to both the artist and his audience only with the passing of time.