Warnayaka Arts, NT Cat No. 1040
Cooee Art Gallery, NSW
Private Collection, NSW
Born at Thompson’s Rockhole in the Tanami Desert, Abie Jangala was initiated in to Warlpiri Law and inherited his father’s responsibility for the essential Rainmaking and Water Dreamings of this vast and arid desert area. Following his father’s death he became the ceremonial boss of the Water, Rain, Cloud and Thunder Dreamings – the most senior ‘rain man’ in the northern Tanami region.
As painting spread amongst the Warlpiri, Abie Jangala played a key role in negotiating a middle path through the conflicting points of view amongst elders reluctant to engage in painting. He became the first artist from Lajamanu to have solo exhibitions and his painting career led the way for other artists in the north Tanami Desert.
From the outset, Abie’s paintings were unique recreations of the iconography that pertained to rain making ceremonies and the reverence in which Dreamings associated with the Rainbow Men are held amongst Warlpiri people. Stark symbols specifically representing rainbows, lightning, clouds, waterholes and frogs, are composed on his canvasses in much the same way as they are etched in relief on the body of rainmakers when covered in kapok or feather down for ceremony. Abie typically painted these powerful symbols, which are also recreated in ceremonial ground constructions, in solid black or red, outlined in single alternate bands of bright yellow, green and red dots, thereby emboldening the icons to evoke the shimmering and alluring effect of the Rainbow Men and their dramatic manifestation as natural climatic phenomena. This allure is imitated by the glint from pieces of broken mirror or shiny belt buckles worn and carried by men in ceremony; and the glistening skin of women covered in animal fat and red ochre. Typically these paintings are in-filled with compact white dots representing rain or fields of hailstones.
At the height of his artistic powers, Abie could apply these uniform white dots in such a way as to evoke the same meditatShare