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Minnie Pwerle

Awelye Atnwengerrp - 2000

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
233.0 x 122.0 cm
Price Realised: $39,040.00

MP #729


Provenance

Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings, Vic Cat. No. 12251
Hank Ebes Collection, Vic

 

accompanied by a certificate booklet from Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings

Minnie Pwerle began painting depictions of her country, Atnwengerrp, and its Dreamings when in her late 70s. There are many parallels between the careers of Minnie Pwerle and her countrywoman, the great Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Both began painting late in life and both created work for a period of seven years. Both painted the majority of their works gesturally and produced a prodigious output. Both artists painted works that were immediately popular and were able to support a number of close relatives with the income they generated.

 

Indeed, the comparison between the two women, who were sisters-in-law, extended to their fundamental feelings of reverence, abandon, and intuition. The manner in which they created their works appeared to be the result of an urgency to reconnect to the past and to keep the Dreaming a living reality. Just like Emily Kngwarreye before her, in painting after painting Minnie boldly and self-assuredly depicted the body designs painted onto women’s breasts and limbs for the regular ceremonial revivification of her country.

While the rambling tuberous roots of the Yam or Bush Potato were Emily’s Dreamings and the subject of her art, Minnie’s primary focus was the Bush Melon and its seeds. Her Awelye-Antnwengerrp paintings drew directly from these ceremonial practices, depicting bush melon, seed, and breast designs in powerful multi-coloured brushstrokes that built into a structured patchwork of luminous colour most often emanating from within a darker under-layer. The energy of these vibrant colourful works seemed to capture the joy of coming across these sweet bush foods, now scarce and difficult to find.

Minnie passed away in 2006, her life an extraordinary journey mapping the transition from that of a nomad through the early years of the pastoral industry, to a new era of Aboriginal control and a flourishing art movement at Utopia.