Angelina Ngale Pwerle
Angelina Ngale Pwerle
1946 Artist Rank 121 Artist Rating 1.5194
As with her sisters, Kathleen and Poly Ngal, Angelina began producing batiks and wooden sculptures in the mid 1980’s, probably influenced by her late husband, the older brother of Cowboy Loy Pwerl. She was formerly known as Angelina ‘Pwerl’, her husband’s name. Pwerl(e) in Alyawarr language is the equivalent to Ngal in the Anmatyerr language, and it is as Angelina Ngal that she is referred to today. She began painting as part of the CAAMA ‘summer project’ in 1988-9 and, already at 40 years of age, was included in the first exhibiton of Utopia women’s paintings held in Alice Springs in 1980.
Angelina quickly adapted to painting on canvas and subsequently gained international recognition. Her work can be seen as a contemporary dialogue or translation of the cultural, geographic, social and religious components of Anmatjerre life. Her intimate renditions of country are delicately layered and can be read and appreciated at a superficial level for their abstraction and painterliness. At a deeper level, however, they depict the cultural and social mores of the society in which she lives.
Angelina paints her grandfather’s country, Arlparra. Many of her paintings depict the Bush Plum, which she represents through a focus of red dots into which she merges a variety of minute and painstakingly rendered coloured dots, ensuring that the tiny red dot is always centered and clear. She has further extended her painting, producing a range of exquisitely coloured compositions that maintain a layer of meaning related to the Bush Plum, in which points of geography, knowledge of places, and memories of hunting or ceremonial business result in a subtle and textured surface that hints to the viewer of an ethereal numinous landscape.
Following exhibitions with Niagara Gallery, her inclusion in the Sydney and Melbourne Art Fairs, and more recently with Lauraine Diggins in Melbourne, interest in and admiration for Angelina’s paintings has grown rapidly. She was a finalist in the 2008 Wynne Prize for Landscape painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and this was followed by her inclusion in the exhibition Emily Kgngwarreye and her Legacy at the Art Front Gallery in Tokyo, Japan 2008, and an exhibition of Utopia art at Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London in 2009.
Angelina Ngal’s exquisite abstract aesthetic has now established her as one of the pre-eminent artists from the Utopia community. The work illustrated is a fine example of her strongest work. It embodies a wonderful synthesis of contemporary abstraction and Indigenous ethereality by imparting a feeling for both the physical, and the spiritual nature of her Arlparra homeland in the Eastern Desert.
Angelina Ngal's works first appeared at auction in 2000 under the name she was formerly referred to, Angelina Pwerle. As one or two dealers who represented her prior to linguist Jenny Green's revised nomenclature for Eastern Desert Artists (first introduced in 2005/6), market records for this artist can be confusing. She creates paintings for a number of dealers and galleries. Most importantly, these include Don Holt at Delmore Downs, the adjoining property to the north of her outstation (Camel Camp); Mark Gooch, Tim Jennings' Mbantua Gallery; Bill Nutall's Niagara Gallery; and Lauraine Diggins' Fine Art Gallery. All but Nutall now refer to her as Ngal.
When an excellent rendition of her bush plum works sold for $6,325 in 2000 at Christies in Melbourne, it established her secondary market profile. Measuring 177 x 176 cm, this painting would be worth close to $30,000 today. By 2004 her auction record had risen to $14,000. This was once more set by set by Christies for a work of similar size. In just four years the unit price of her work had risen from $20/sq.cm to $46/sq.cm, a strong indication of her increasing reputation and the growing demand for her best works.
Her current auction record was set by Lawson~Menzies in 2007 for the magnificent 150 x 374 cm canvas Spring Flowers at Arlpara 2007, which was a featured lot in Lawson~Menzies November sale (Lot 23). Its sale price of $38,400 reflected the fact that this Lauraine Diggins provenanced work had been strategically placed in the secondary market in order to underpin and firmly establish a benchmark for this increasingly important artist. In 2010 Deutscher & Hackett featured another magnificent example, measuring 183 x 183 cm and carrying Niagara Gallery provenance. The work carried a presale estimate well below its $25,000 primary market value. Nevertheless, the work sold for $17,400, a not entirely unsatisfactory result for the seller (who probably purchased it for a great deal less in 2000 when it was created), and a very nice pick up for the buyer. This work was displaced as her second highest record price in 2012 and dropped further to 4th by 2015 when Deutscher & Hackett's disbursal of a work carrying Delmore Gallery provenance measuring 122 x 92 cm from the Laverty Collection achieved a price of $18,000. Four of the 5 works on offer in 2015 sold and this was followed early in 2016 with the sale of four nice sculptural pieces by the artist which had been in the collection of Peter McMahon. In June that same year Mossgreen established the artist's 6th highest record with a lovely work sold from the Helen Reid collection. 2017 saw another work enter her top ten results, when Arnekwety Place Viii 2002, sold for $12,182, came in at 7th.
This is an artist whose stocks are rising as she emerged during the period 2007-2011 as a leading artist from her region. Both her success rate at auction and her average price (currently $5,217) are set to rise steeply as major works appear and begin to fill her top 10 results. This occurred in 2012 when two works entitled Bush Plum achieved $19,200 and $12,000 becoming her 2nd and 5th best results at auction at the time. Both were offered for sale by Bonham's, which offered works from the superannuation fund of William Nuttall. Nutall, the owner of Niagara Gallery, had represented the artist for many years, and his decision to dump his collection due to changes in the superannuation laws ensured quality works could be snapped up at a bargain price. In fact, six of the seven works on offer in 2012 sold for a total of $38,925, an average of just $6,487 per work.
Angelina's secondary market results are set to improve rapidly over the next three to four years. She is a talented and meticulous painter who has been given the opportunity to paint large scale works that have seen her regularly represented in the final selection of prestigious national art prizes. She is currently the120th most successful artist yet she was the 30th best performing artist in 2016. Her elevation into the top 100 is only a matter of time.