Kitty Napanangka Simon
Kitty Napanangka Simon (b. 1948) is a Warlpiri woman from Lajamanu, on the northern edge of the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory. She is one of Mina Mina's senior custodians and a keeper of Women' Law for this remote and isolated desert landscape. Kitty painted her first works in the late 1980s before hanging up her paint brushes to focus on raising her family. She began painting again in 2008 experimenting with various styles before adopting a looser, more immediate approach for her first solo exhibition in 2013 at Cooee Art Gallery Sydney.
Her recent 2015 solo in exhibition, Only Women Dance Till Dawn, held in New York at Pollon Art, was hugely successful, introducing her work to a wider international audience. The colourful work of Napanangka Simon has become a considered choice for newer and younger collectors, as well as remaining a consistent choice for established collectors.
In this new body of work Napanangka Simon uses a combination of line work, coming from body art and ceremony, and intricate dot work. She embraces her own individual style and works in bright large merges of colour. This style represents yawulyu (women's ritual design or art) a tradition of Warlpiri women to depict the story of Mina Mina (near Lake Mackay). With fluidity and resolve, Kitty employs optic whites and an array of pastels to capture the feeling and colour of the desert flowers and the natural features of the surrounding salt plains of Mina Mina, 600 kilometres to the south of Lajamanu.
Mina Mina is a sacred place to Warlpiri women. It was created by the Karntakurlangu, a large group of ancestral women who danced across the vast salt plain feeding on its wild fruit - bush bananas and native plums. The rhythm of their dancing vibrated through the landscape creating the undulating sandhills, water courses and clay pans.
Napanangka Simon paints rapidly and without draft, the composition is built new every time. The act of painting is metaphysical. The brush moves accompanied by rhythmic chanting. Ancient song recalls and brings to life the songline and story that she is depicting. The very act of painting is a means by which she can revise and vivify knowledge of Country and the creation story which brought Mina Mina into existence.
Each painting is carefully considered and deliberated over, changed and discussed with the other artists. This sometimes provokes laughter and sometimes debate as each artist gives their thoughts and reaction to the work. Kitty's paintings are very different to Lajamanu style, but Warnayaka Art Centre has always had one or two controversial artist in its ranks.
Art Centre Manager, Louisa Erglis says: This criticism has meant Kitty has had to take a brave stand and like women everywhere she isn't alone, but has the support of her skin sisters and the women staff.
Cooee Art Gallery in Partnership with Warnayaka Art Centre is proud to announce Kitty Napanangka Simon's third Solo exhibition to coincide with two major Sydney Arts Festivals: Art Month Sydney and Spectrum Now.
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