• ARTISTS

          Cooee Art has built long-term relationships with Aboriginal and First Nations artists and their not for profit art centres since 1981.

          Our gallery team travels regularly to remote areas of Australia to meet with artists and develop our exhibition program.

        • Auction Artists

          Cooee Art Auctions works with artists bi-annually across two separate departments – Indigenous Fine Art and Modern & Contemporary Fine Art.

          Read through the profiles and market analysis for the top 200 Indigenous artists

        • SHOP ARTWORKS

          Cooee Art curates ethically sourced art from Australian Indigenous communities that we have formed relationships with for 40 years.

          Our gallery team travels regularly to remote areas of Australia to meet with artists to consign artworks.

        • New Arrivals

          Cooee Art gallery artworks arrive in our online shop and our gallery spaces weekly.

          Shop new arrivals that coincide with our monthly exhibition program.

        • All Artworks

          Shop online from the full portfolio of available Cooee Art artworks – paintings, sculptures, fine art prints and artisanal objects ranging from $100 – $500k.

        • EXHIBITIONS

          Cooee Art was established in 1981 and is Australia’s oldest exhibiting Indigenous art gallery. 

          The gallery has presented the finest Aboriginal and First Nations art through their exhibition program for over 40 years showing the work of over 150 individual artists.

          The Cooee Art stockroom includes contemporary Aboriginal paintings, rare bark paintings and artefacts, early desert boards and acrylic paintings as well as sculpture and limited edition fine art prints.

        • Current

          Cooee Art presents monthly solo and group exhibitions in the Paddington gallery supported by public programs including artist talks and workshops.

        • Future

          Explore forthcoming exhibitions in the Cooee Art galleries and our special event program.

        • AUCTIONS

          Cooee Art Auctions provide an informed and professional approach to buying and selling art in the secondary market. We are a market leader with specialist knowledge and proven results. 

          We offer collectable Australian and International artworks for sale by auction and private treaty. 

          Cooee Art Auctions work with artists, galleries, museums and private collections bi-annually to curate and consign artworks across two separate departments – Indigenous Fine Art and Modern & Contemporary Fine Art.

          Our auctions and previews for potential buyers and collectors are presented in the Cooee Art premium 480sqm hybrid gallery and auction space in Paddington. 

        • Indigenous Fine Art

          Cooee Art Auctions offers bi-annual auctions of significant and highly-collectible Australian Indigenous artworks.

          Our Art Market Analytics provides comprehensive artist profiles and market analytics on Australia’s 200 most important Aboriginal artists.

        • Modern & Contemporary Fine Art

          Introducing Modern and Contemporary Australian and international art.

          We seek to establish new benchmarks for pricing and documentation for artists in the secondary art market

        • Art Market Analytics

          Cooee Art has created a comprehensive art market analytics tool with easy navigation. The information we provide is designed to be an invaluable resource for art consultants, valuers, and industry professionals and to serve the interests of artists, galleries, institutions, art centres, collectors and researchers.

        • Artist Profiles

          Each artist is ranked according to their career, and annual artist ranking index. Detailed profiles, market analysis and performance indicators are provided for a growing list of artists along with the artworks that have achieved their ten highest results at auction.

        • Current Indigenous Art Market

          Provides professional advice on the Indigenous art market in line with other investment categories, thereby serving the interests of artists, galleries and collectors.

        • Consultancy

          The Cooee Art team has been providing expert advice for over 40 years in a Consultancy capacity to offer a breadth of services for the business side of art.

        • Valuations

          Cooee Art Founding Director Adrian Newstead OAM has more than 20 years experience in valuing Aboriginal art and artefacts (pre-contact to Contemporary).

        • EXHIBITION AND EVENT MANAGEMENT

          Cooee Art curates and coordinates exhibitions on behalf of charitable organisations, commercial businesses and galleries in Australia and overseas utilising its extensive contacts with individual artists, artists’ agents, galleries and important private and public collections.

        • ABOUT

          Cooee Art was originally established in 1981 and runs a hybrid art model to represent and support artists in an ethical and sustainable way. We have two galleries, our flagship gallery in the heart of Aboriginal Sydney in Redfern and a boutique showroom gallery in Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach along with a seperate fine art auction wing, Cooee Art Auctions established in 2017. Cooee is now Australia’s oldest exhibiting Indigenous art gallery. Since first working with Australian Aboriginal artists in 1981, we have presented the finest First Nations art through exhibitions and events in Australia, Europe, and the Americas.

  • Contact

Cooee Art foremost acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land and waters on which we work and reside.

ABORIGINAL FINE ART GALLERY, PURCHASE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART, CONTEMPORARY AND ABORIGINAL ART FOR SALE – SYDNEY

Price and availability are subject to change at the gallery’s discretion. While we try to ensure the accuracy of all data across the website, Cooee Art reserves the right to cancel a sale due to price change.

The artist holds the copyright for all images throughout the website and must not be reused or reproduced in any way without explicit permission.

© COOEE ART 1981 – 2021

Ian W. Abdulla

Upcoming auction

Profile

Ngarrindjeri artist Ian Abdulla lived all his life at Cobdolga, an early irrigation settlement in the Riverland region of South Australia. The township is located beside the Murray River, it’s name a corruption of Cobdogle, the ‘king’ of the local Aboriginal tribe. Abdulla grew up by the swamp, formed when the system of locks changed the river level, a haven for water birds, especially pelicans.

He began painting in the late eighties, a period of cultural renaissance in Cobdolga, due in large to mentorship from art activist and teacher Steve Fox, who had taken an extended break from his role as art adviser at Yirrkala in North East Arnhem Land. Abdulla captured the prevailing mood of his community when he told Steve Fox that he couldn’t draw and that his mob had no culture left. ‘That was just on the surface though’, Fox later recalled, ‘it all changed the more we talked' (Fox 1992: 68). Despite Abdulla’s early misgivings about his creative potential, his work evolved and found an appreciative audience.

Through his painting Abdulla came to relate the simple narrative stories that recorded his recollections of times and deeds that illuminated the life of the local Aboriginal people living in rural poverty. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, his childhood memories, though simply told, are far from simple and, importantly, are deeply grounded in historical context. It is a perspective that is at once personal and political, though gently so. In time Abdulla became the most successful of the Cobdolga artists. While much of their art was narrative, contemporary and political, Abdulla himself tended away from the overtly political and developed a quieter, more reflective style, which garnered considerable popular attention, and even affection, from the mainstream public.

'I can only paint what I know to be true,' Abdullah said, revealing the sense of authenticity that lends gravitas to his naive painting style. Human figures, tenuous within the painted landscape of mountains, trees, birds and animals, go about their activities integrated within, rather than imposed upon the background. The overall effect is one of continuity between a unique environment and its human inhabitants. Most of his paintings are annotated, and it is the text, centred in the visual forefront of the image, that provides the link between these naive images and the broader historical framework of Aboriginal dispossession and inequity.

Although his work has remained stylistically consistent throughout his career, his final paintings departed somewhat from stories of his childhood to address contemporary issues. The vanished river life is replaced by the modern day hardships of life in Cobdolga; alcoholism, unemployment, violence and prison life. The childlike, figurative narrative delivers these stories simply as ‘truth’, recording events with a certain sense of objectivity and largely without judgement. Prominent attention to background surroundings still conveys the sense that human intention is subject to greater forces. In his painting Here is Where the Angels Carried Me to The Front Step When I Was Walking Around the Mission Looking For a Head Strainer 1999, Abdulla left behind the innocence of childhood and tells an adult story of hope and redemption. For an artist who initially maintained that, ‘In the future my paintings won't change much from what they are today‘ (Murphy 1992: 14), this direction is compelling. The lack of artifice always evident in Abdulla’s work reflected his opinion that what ultimately matters more than anything is that these stories are told.

The sense that Abdulla was a ‘people’s artist’, and was a storyteller creating works for his own community as much as for a wider audience, has sat relatively comfortably alongside his commercial success and artistic recognition. His representation through Paul Greenaway in Adelaide and the Hogarth Gallery in Sydney was stable and enduring, built upon the same deep personal feelings that he imparted so successfully in his art. Over time he came to occupy a unique position within the broader canon of Aboriginal art as a contemporary voice outside of the ‘urban contemporary’ framework.

Ian Abdulla’s work has been recognised in many ways since it gained recognition in the early 1990’s. He was awarded South Australian Aboriginal Artist of the Year in 1991 and an Australia Council Fellowship in the following year. On two occasions he was runner up in the National Indigenous Heritage Art Award and in 1996 he won the General Painting section of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. His work has been developed into two popular children’s books that deal with social and environmental issues, As I Grew Older 1993 and Tucker 1994; and attesting to his enduring popularity, his life and art were the subject of the play Riverland directed by Wesley Enoch for the Adelaide Festival in 2007. Ian Abdulla passed away in early 2011 leaving behind this great legacy.

MARKET ANALYSIS

Ian Abdulla’s naive narrative paintings have always been popular amongst collectors of contemporary Aboriginal art, as his extremely high success rate implies. It stood at 88% at the end of 2007 and even after several poor years it still stands at 71%. Since his death in 2011, Abdulla’s works are no longer available in the primary market. Paul Greenaway Gallery,  Hogarth Galleries and Niagara Galleries held solo shows through the 1990s but since 2003, the secondary market has been the best place to acquire his works and nine of his highest ten results have been achieved since that time.

Canvas works average around $9,000 and works on paper $5,000. Three of his highest ten results were achieved in 2003, a year in which no less than 16 works were offered for sale principally at Sotheby’s and Shapiro Auctioneers. That year not a single work failed to find a buyer, however, neither auction house managed to dislodge the $30,550 record set by Christie's in August 2001 for Putting Sprinklers on Tomatoes at Night (Lot 32). This extremely large work measuring 199 x 273 cm, carrying an estimate of $20,000-30,000, is unlikely to be beaten for some time to come.

Lawson~Menzies managed to create his second highest result when Out at Night Stealing Pumpkins 1999 sold above the high estimate of $12,000 and achieved $16,800 in May 2007 (Lot 153). And Shapiro Auctioneers hold the record for the highest price achieved for a work on paper at $6,600. The majority of Abdulla’s works have sold through Shapiro Auctioneers and Sotheby’s, which between them have generated nearly half of his sales income.

In 2009 Elder Fine Art offered four works at auction, all selling for under the two thousand dollar mark. In part these low prices, well below average, can be attributed to the smallish size of the works, measuring around 60 x 78 cm. However, in May 2003 Untitled (When We Used to Go Camping Down Near Gerard Mission…) measuring just 56 x 76 cm fetched $5,875 for Christie's (Lot 298A). This seeming anomaly is possibly explained by the fact that all were painted during 2008, the year prior to the auction, possibly arriving at auction direct from the artist’s studio. Somewhat tellingly (i) When My Step Brother. Passed Away. . ., 2006. (ii) That Night I Got Pissed 2006, offered by Deutscher and Hackett in 2009, with an estimate of $10,000-15,000 failed to find a buyer.

Although no new records entered his top 10 results in 2015, no less than 23 works were offered for sale of which 14 appeared at Shapiro auctions. Though the highest price achieved was just $3,360 and only 15 of these sold, it was enough to make him the 33rd most successful artist that year against his career standing at 75th.

While it is unlikely that Ian Abdulla’s paintings will dramatically increase in price they are likely to steadily grow in value due to their charm and general appeal plus his relatively small oeuvre. Very few, if any, have been re-offered for sale and this is testimony to the high regard in which they are held. Collectors who prefer unusual narrative contemporary works should consider this ‘outsider’ artist as one who deserves to be recongized for the special insight that he has given into the life of the marginal and dispossessed Aboriginal ‘fringe dwellers’ who grew up along the Murray and many other rivers in the rural regions from Southern Queensland and the Eastern and Southern states.

MARKET PERFORMANCE

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
0.0000 0.2611 0.1255 1.2987 0.1750 0.4185 0.2119 0.2447 0.2969 0.2886 0.4861 0.6800 0.2821 0.0678 0.2282 0.5983 0.0379 0.1415 0.1362 0.3058
0/0 2/3 2/2 16/16 2/3 6/9 3/3 2/2 3/8 7/8 9/15 12/19 6/7 2/7 4/6 15/22 1/1 2/4 2/4 6/7
$0 $17,038 $3,936 $6,589 $7,660 $4,864 $4,991 $14,973 $9,797 $1,700 $2,918 $3,212 $2,211 $1,151 $3,256 $2,189 $1,440 $5,005 $4,637 $2,597
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 -

top 10 Historical artwork sales

1

Putting Sprinklers on Tomatoes at Night'

auction: Christie's Sydney lot: 32 date: 26/08/2001
199 x 273 cm Acrylic on canvas

$30,550.00
2

Out at Night Stealing Pumpkins, 1999

auction: Lawson~Menzies Sydney lot: 153 date: 23/05/2007
123 x 183 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$16,800.00
3

Loading Bales of Lucerne

auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd. Sydney lot: 190 date: 29/07/2003
122 x 153 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$15,600.00
4

Pelicans at Katarapko

auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd. Sydney lot: 189 date: 29/07/2003
121.5 x 151 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$15,600.00
5

Night Fishing 1994

auction: Mossgreen Auctions Melbourne lot: 104 date: 08/04/2008
122 x 91 cm Acrylic on canvas

$15,535.00
6

Keeping My Feet Cool, 1999

auction: Mossgreen Auctions Melbourne lot: 41 date: 14/08/2007
122 x 152 cm Acrylic on canvas

$13,145.00
7

Counting Wildlife at Night

auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd. Sydney lot: 289 date: 20/10/2008
92 x 122 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$9,600.00
8

Walking Home with the Sheep's Heads

auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd. Sydney lot: 511 date: 29/07/2003
76 x 102 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$9,600.00
9

In My Childhood

auction: Christie's Sydney lot: 18 date: 30/11/2004
91 x 121.5 cm Oil on canvas

$9,560.00
10

Night Fishing, 1994

auction: Mossgreen Auctions Sydney lot: 36 date: 09/10/2017
91 x 122 cm Acrylic on canvas

$8,060.00
REDFERN GALLERY

17 Thurlow Street,
Redfern, NSW, 2016

p. +61 (02) 9300 9233
Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10am till 5pm

BONDI BEACH GALLERY

31 Lamrock Avenue
Bondi Beach, NSW 2026

p. +61 (02) 9300 9233
Opening Hours:
Open by appointment

Cooee Art foremost acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land and waters on which we work and reside.

ABORIGINAL FINE ART GALLERY, PURCHASE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART, CONTEMPORARY AND ABORIGINAL ART FOR SALE – SYDNEY

Price and availability are subject to change at the gallery’s discretion. While we try to ensure the accuracy of all data across the website, Cooee Art reserves the right to cancel a sale due to price change.

The artist holds the copyright for all images throughout the website and must not be reused or reproduced in any way without explicit permission.

© COOEE ART 1981 – 2021

Cooee Art foremost acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land and waters on which we work and reside.

ABORIGINAL FINE ART GALLERY, PURCHASE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART, CONTEMPORARY AND ABORIGINAL ART FOR SALE – SYDNEY

Price and availability are subject to change at the gallery’s discretion. While we try to ensure the accuracy of all data across the website, Cooee Art reserves the right to cancel a sale due to price change.

The artist holds the copyright for all images throughout the website and must not be reused or reproduced in any way without explicit permission.

© COOEE ART 1981 – 2021