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          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.

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          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.

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

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          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

Tommy (Yannima) Watson

Upcoming auction

Profile

Pitjantjatjara elder Tommy Watson gained wide domestic and international exposure in an astonishingly short amount of time. Beginning his artistic career in 2002, his paintings were greeted with instant acclaim. His first works were created at the community arts centre in Irrunytju (also named Wingellina) located 12 km south-west of the tri-state border where the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia meet. This was just 44 kilometres east of his birthplace at Anamarapiti, circa 1935. Though he recalled visiting Papunya in his youth, observing the germination of an art movement there, it was not until later that he himself felt compelled to lay down his stories in paint. 

Watson's debut at the 2002 Desert Mob show in Alice Springs was followed by his participation in a series of domestic group exhibitions from which his reputation gained momentum. Shortly thereafter, the sale of a major painting for $36,300, in an auction organised in 2003 to raise money for the struggling art centre, created a frenzy around his work. The catalogue for the sale was distributed widely amongst collectors. The demand for his paintings has outstripped supply ever since. On learning of the sale, Tommy Watson and his entourage travelled to Alice Springs where he painted 42 works for Red Sand Gallery. He subsequently entered into a representative relationship with art dealer, John Ioannou, the owner of Agathon Gallery. Their exclusive arrangement became the subject of much controversy, given that it was a break-away from the established avenue of representation through community art centres. However, the calibre of work that Watson had consistently produced for Ioannou was a testimony to the success of their professional relationship. Other artists working at Irrunytju were obviously impressed as, before long, the community council offered Ioannou the opportunity to exclusively manage and market all of the art centre’s art.

Other painters from this geographic region, the Spinifex people, have recorded the effect of the British nuclear testing in this country during the 1950s in a somewhat similar manner to the way in which Watson expressed the history of the land in his own work. Grounded in his paintings are rockholes, mountain ranges, and creekbeds, however, we see these transmitted in waves of light.  Many of his paintings are, in fact, evocative of nuclear shock waves, light waves, and explosions. They meet the dual demands of the contemporary Indigenous Australian art market in that they tend towards abstract expressionism while conforming to traditional practice through layering and ‘dotting’.  Watson’s paintings seem to shift and shimmer out of description. His paintings have been described as ‘incandescent’, an interesting and revealing use of a term defined as 'shining or glowing with heat’. Particularly apt, because ‘hot’ is the term that, again and again, was used to describe the artist himself.

Tommy Watson’s prominence was ultimately cemented when, in 2006, he was commissioned to create a permanent installation in the new Musee du Quai Branly, in Paris. The piece he created, Wipu Rockhole, was made using baked enamel on stainless steel and converted into a ceiling mural. It presents a radical transposition in medium as a traditional painting embedded in architecture.

Notably, his transition to stardom was actually far from contrived, or even self-driven. This is perhaps why the description of 'art star' was so incongruous when applied to Watson. He preferred not to enter into art dialogue at all, a fact that was helped by his almost total reliance on his first language, Pitjantjatjara. The sense of great expectations surrounding Tommy Watson would have presented a challenge to any artist, yet he remained impervious to hype. He continued to live according to the traditional culture that he recorded in his paintings. His integrity was displayed in his opposition to painting works upon demand, ‘I paint works from my heart. I can’t do those works again … it can’t be real Dreaming if I do’ (Agathon Galleries). This transcendent philosophy is reflected in paintings that, at their best, are truly great works of art.
 

MARKET ANALYSIS

To outline the rise of Tommy Watson chronologically would read almost as a how-to in crossing the threshold from ‘next big thing’ to ‘the hottest thing’ in the market. Since he first emerged on the art scene, his trajectory has been unparalleled in the annals of Aboriginal art. From obscurity in 2002 he rose to become the 27th most important artist of the movement by 2007, and 14th by the end of 2012, by which time his records transcended those of any other living Aboriginal artist other than Ronnie Tjampitjinpa.

During August 2003, shortly after Cromwell’s achieved a massive $36,300 on the sale of the 140 x 177 cm Kukutjara 2003 at a fundraising auction in Sydney, the Aboriginal art world’s attention focused on Tommy Watson’s work with searing intensity. On hearing the news, Tommy and members of his family had travelled to Alice Springs and supplied paintings to Red Sand Gallery. Unsure of the prices they should attach to them, given the only sale they had heard of was at a charity auction, Red Sand offered one of the forty-two works they had secured from the artist through Shapiro’s March 2005 auction. Measuring 121 x 200 cm and carrying an estimate of $15,000-18,000 it sold for $30,000 on the hammer ($36,000 including buyer's premium and GST). It was a work that had barely time for the paint to dry. To say this stirred up a hornets' nest would be an understatement. The commercial ramifications were still being played out in the courts two years later and Mary Knights, the art coordinator at the Irrunytju Art Centre whose position was secured by the funds raised during the auction, ignited a cauldron of controversy hotter even than the deep reds and vibrant orange textured fields of the artist’s multi-layered palette.  

Disillusioned by the magnitude of these two sales and the small percentage of the money he had received in return, Tommy Watson decided to stop painting altogether and apparently did not work again until persuaded to do so by John Ioannou, who offered him, in his native Pitjantjatjarra tongue, a deal that would see him earn more than $600,000 from his art during the following 12 months. In Tommy Watson’s solo exhibition, held at Ioannou’s Agathon Gallery in October 2005, no less than ten of the 30 paintings were priced at $55,000 and all had sold prior to the official opening. During the same month, Shapiro’s included a second work by the artist from Red Sand, which sold for $33,600. This work, Kungkarrakalpa 2005 was smaller than their previous offering just six months earlier at just 120 x 150 cm, yet the estimate had doubled to  $30,000-40,000.

In just over two years Tommy Watson was firmly established as a ‘superstar’, able to command a higher price for his new works than any other contemporary Aboriginal artist then painting. The strength of interest in Watson’s work was confirmed by the length of the list of anxious Agathon Gallery clients waiting to purchase a work. Little wonder then that the level of interest in the major work Waltitjarra, 2006 measuring 204 x 251 cm in Lawson~Menzies May 2007 sale saw it achieve his highest price to date. Submitted by Ioannou, the painting was one of a number held in the trust fund for which the entire proceeds were to revert to the artist. After spirited bidding from six potential buyers drove the price beyond its $80,000-100,000 presale estimate, two intrepid buyers pushed the price to $200,000 forcing the successful buyer to pay a staggering $240,000 for a work created less than 12 months earlier.

In 2009, Sotheby’s re-offered the painting that originally sold at the Cromwell’s fundraiser, an event attended by a great deal of expectation, especially given that it was the first Tommy Watson painting ever offered to Sotheby’s clients. Originally purchased for $36,300 the painting sold the second time around for $96,000. Watson's market performance in 2010 proved that potential consignee's were justified in holding back major works given the economic climate of the time. The collector who offered up Iyarka 2008, with an estimate of $80,000-100,000 was not rewarded for his bravery. It failed to sell in Menzies March sale (Lot 70). However, two lovely small works did sell in the $20,000-$30,000 range. Watson painted few small works and these are always eagerly snapped up at affordable prices.

By 2014 Watson's relationship with John Ioannou had broken down and Alice Springs art dealer Chris Simon had become his exclusive international representative. With the prices of anything other than very small works already beyond the pocket of small investors, Tommy's large paintings continued to increase in value in the primary market. 

Between 2013 and his death in 2017 a staggering 55 works appeared at various auction houses of which only 25 sold, bringing his clearance rate down to only 50%. However, this belies the fact that Chris Simon's coterie of primary market galleries have been selling Tommy's works with unfailing success. Despite his mixed fortunes at auction, there is little doubt that over the next decade Tommy Watson will become one of the top 10 artists of the movement and eventually firmly establish himself just behind the market leaders.

MARKET PERFORMANCE

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.1905 0.0000 0.4781 0.4079 1.2238 0.9871 0.4923 0.3250 0.1153 1.4572 0.1605 0.9759 0.8378 1.4920 0.3892 0.2228 0.5968
0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 3/4 3/3 4/4 4/7 2/2 2/7 2/8 7/18 2/8 9/17 5/10 10/16 2/7 2/8 4/12
$0 $0 $0 $36,300 $0 $25,400 $18,483 $93,600 $60,900 $60,600 $26,400 $3,325 $43,334 $6,443 $11,759 $28,077 $22,261 $37,875 $12,406 $22,264
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 -

top 10 Historical artwork sales

1

Waltitjatta, 2006

auction: Lawson~Menzies Sydney lot: 56 date: 23/05/2007
204 x 251 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen

$240,000.00
2

Pukara (2009)

auction: Sotheby's Australia Melbourne lot: 27 date: 05/06/2012
170 x 170 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen

$114,000.00
3

Wangkamarl, 2003

auction: Deutscher and Hackett Sydney lot: 88 date: 08/03/2015
128 x 185 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen

$105,000.00
4

Iyaarka

auction: Lawson~Menzies Sydney lot: 236 date: 19/06/2008
156 x 199 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$96,000.00
5

Iyarka 2005

auction: Lawson~Menzies Sydney lot: 48 date: 14/11/2007
207 x 151 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen

$96,000.00
6

Kukutjara

auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd. Melbourne lot: 71 date: 24/11/2009
140.5 x 175 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$96,000.00
7

Irika, 2015

auction: CooeeArt MarketPlace Sydney lot: 83 date: 20/10/2020
301 x 182 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$90,000.00
8

Irika, 2015

auction: CooeeArt MarketPlace Sydney lot: 83 date: 20/10/2020
301 x 182 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$90,000.00
9

Walka 2005

auction: Lawson~Menzies Sydney lot: 225 date: 19/03/2008
123 x 203 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen

$90,000.00
10

Ngura Tjuta (2005)

auction: Mossgreen Auctions Melbourne lot: 84 date: 22/07/2014
178.2 x 264.7 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

$65,880.00
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