Spotlight: Second Generation of the Aboriginal Australian Art Movement Takes Center Stage at SmithDavidson Gallery

The gallery will present a range of works by women artists from the movement at Art Cologne, opening this week.

Emily Kam Kngwarray, Untitled (Alalgura Emu Country) (1989). Commissioned for Delmore Gallery. Courtesy of SmithDavidson Gallery.

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What You Need to Know: Miami and Amsterdam-based SmithDavidson Gallery will present “A New Generation; A New Perspective” at Art Cologne, taking place from November 16–19, 2023. Showcasing the work of female Australian Indigenous artists, the presentation will hold a special focus on First Nations painter Emily Kame Kngwarray, one of Australia’s most esteemed artists. Alongside 12 works by Kngwarray, work by other important female artists will also be shown, including Naata Nungurrayi, Barbara Weir, Gloria Petyarre, Maggie Watson Napangardi, and Minnie Pwerle. Together, the showing will offer invaluable insight into the work of Second Generation artists of the Aboriginal Australian Art Movement.

Why We Like It: SmithDavidson Gallery’s presentation at Art Cologne promises to be a jewel box exhibition bringing the historically important and influential work and practices of late 20th and early 21st century artists. Though frequently overlooked by the greater art world, the significance of the Aboriginal Australian Art Movement cannot be understated, especially the innovations and advancements made by recent generations of female artists. Emily Kam Kngwarray’s paintings uniquely illustrate the myriad ways a combination of traditional and contemporary approaches has resulted in innovations that have helped to expanded the entirety of the art movement. The presentation underscores the gallery’s longstanding commitment to Australian Indigenous Art, bringing it to the fore of art world discourse and attention.

According to the Gallery: “SmithDavidson Gallery has been a prominent advocate and educator internationally for Australian Indigenous Art since 2006. Following the positive responses to the gallery’s presentation at Art Cologne 2022, including front-page coverage at the Kölnische Rundschau, the gallery’s presentation for 2023 highlights the specific era between 1985 and 2010 of the ‘Second Generation’ painters. An era in which female painters take the lead and whose innovations greatly expanded the art movement. Utopian artist Emily Kam Kngwarray is without a doubt the most notable artist from this era and her ability to experiment with both subject matter, composition, and color has changed our understanding of ‘Australian Aboriginal Art.’ At the same time, artists like Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa—or ‘Mrs. Bennett’ as she was the wife of the late artist John John Bennett—and Naata Nungurrayi, expanded the art of the Western Desert with new color schemes and subject matters; telling their own stories inspired by the Women’s Dreamings hidden from the male perspect ive and, up to that point, also from the art world at large.”

See featured works below.

Emily Kam Kngwarray, Yam Dreaming (1996). Courtesy of SmithDavidson Gallery.

Emily Kam Kngwarreye, My Country Wall (1994). Courtesy of SmithDavidson Gallery.

Maggie Watson Napangardi, Digging Sticks (1995). Courtesy of SmithDavidson Gallery.

Naata Nungurrayi, Untitled (2002). Courtesy of SmithDavidson Gallery.

SmithDavidson will be showing at Art Cologne, booth #C301, November 16–19, 2023.

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