Dave Pwerle Ross Biography

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Dave Pwerle Ross grew up on Utopia, Alcoota, Mt Riddock, Macdonald Downs and Delmore. Born in 1935, his Country is The Sandover River from The Alcoota Homestead to Tommyhawk soak on Utopia.

Dave was a quick learner, highly skilled at the wool table in the shearing sheds of Delmore and Macdonald Downs. Always affable and quick to share a joke, he also was ‘The Boss’ of the Aboriginal team of shearers and shed hands. His younger brother, Jo, was a shearer, as well as Lenny Kngwarreye (Lilly Sandover's brother).

Don Holt remembers shearing with these men and his brother, Malcolm (16), at his grandfather’s property, Macdonald Downs, when he was 18. Later, they all continued to work together often at Delmore Downs.

Because of the vast knowledge passed on to him by his father and others, Dave was a Law Man of high degree. When Dave married and moved back to Utopia, he was involved in important ceremonies from Alcoota to the Queensland border, near Mount Isa (over a distance of nearly 600 kilometres). His influence extended to many of the ceremonies of the neighbouring Alyawarre and Eastern Arrernte people.

Dave Ross created his first painting in April 1989; it was commissioned by Don Holt at Delmore Gallery. His work stood out immediately as bold, strong and authorative. He quickly mastered the use of the brush and acrylic paint and embarked on the steady production of a powerful series of historical paintings, recording many of the ceremonies and stories of his people.

On a visit to Delmore, Geoffrey Bardon, who started the Papunya Art movement, commented that in his opinion, Dave Ross (and several other Delmore based Anmatyerre artists) were in the same league as the Papunya men. This was a high compliment coming from him.

Many interstate gallery directors and dealers also loved the Dave Pwerle Ross paintings. Chandler Coventry held Dave’s first solo exhibition in 1990, then James Mollison bought one of his paintings for the National Gallery of Victoria. Gabrielle Pizzi showed Dave Ross in her gallery in Melbourne, then in St. Petersburg in Russia in 1991. Dave’s artworks were also collected by the both the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Queensland Art Gallery. The Louvre in Paris bought one of his paintings from Delmore (via Stephane Jacob). This painting is now in the Musee de Quai Branly.

An unusual painting of Dave’s is in the Smithsonian museum in the USA. They held a competition and exhibition for Indigenous artists around the world, sending one replica of the space shuttle " Endeavour " to one artist in each country to paint, twenty six in total. The entry by Dave Pwerle Ross was one of three to be acquired by the Smithsonian.

A Dave Pwerle Ross painting measuring five metres by one and half metres was on consignment at Mulgara Gallery at The Ayers Rock Resort when it was seen and purchased by a European art collector, who was a composer and conductor for the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He was inspired to write "The Uluru Symphony " and even brought out a film crew from Europe to film Dave near Delmore, dancing and singing the story of another big painting.

Most of Dave Ross's important paintings will remain in the Delmore Collection, but a few works will be available for sale through our online catalogue.

 

COLLECTIONS

The Delmore Collection
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Musée Nationale des Artes d'Afrique et d'Oceanie, Paris, France
Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1997  William Mora Gallery, Melbourne
1990  Robin Purvis, Brisbane
1989  Coventry Gallery, Sydney

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2017  The Golden Age of Utopia, Aboriginal Signature Estrangin gallery, Brussels, Belgium
1993  Tjukurrpa, Desert Dreamings, Aboriginal Art from Central Australia (1971-1993), Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth WA; 1994, Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs.
1992  Crossroads-Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo. 
1992  Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs. 
1991  Aboriginal Paintings from the Desert, Union of Soviet Artists Gallery, Moscow and Museum of Ethnographic Art, St. Petersburg, Russia
1991  Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Exhibited in Russia, England, France and Italy
 

COMMISSIONS

1991  Smithsonian Institute, USA