Kathleen Petyarre Biography

Kathleen Petyarre

Kathleen Petyarre began her rise to the world stage with a ground breaking exhibition at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Flinders Lane, Melbourne on 31 October 1989, supplied and curated by the Holt family of Delmore Gallery. "Aboriginal Art from Utopia" began to put Kathleen Petyarre on the map with her early, powerful paintings on linen.

Born in 1944 at Atnangkere, to the northwest of Utopia station, 275 kilometres north east of Alice Springs, Kathleen Petyarre belongs to the Eastern Anmatyerre language group. Kathleen began making artworks in 1977, producing batiks along with a number of the other women at Utopia, when Yipati, a Pitjantjatjara artist from Ernabella and Suzie Bryce, a craft instructor, introduced them to the medium. Later, Jenny Green and Julia Murray would supply materials, training and encouragement. In April 1989, Kathleen took part in the exhibition at the S. H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney, painting on a small masonite board supplied by Rodney Gooch, of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA). Also in April 1989, Kathleen asked the Holt Family at Delmore to supply her with materials, and began painting with acrylic on canvas, and since then gradually developed her signature styles, refining her technique of layering very fine dots in thin acrylic paint. This pristine, even surface is carefully prepared by the artist, resulting in works of remarkable depth and complexity. Her paintings have been compared to the works of the American artists, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothco.

In Europe, Kathleen rapidly became famous when she was collected by Le Louvre (later located in the Musée du quai Branly in Paris). Then the Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France purchased a painting, as well as the Aboriginal Art Museum in Utrecht, The Netherlands and Sammlung Essl Gallery, Austria.

In the US, collectors were impressed by the beauty, authority and originality of her work. Early serious collectors were The Kelton Foundation, The Seattle Art Museum, The Levi-Kaplan Collection, Harvard University and the Kluge-Ruhe Collection at The University of Virginia.

For over twenty years Kathleen painted for the Holt Family at Delmore Gallery and David Cossey at Gallery Australis in Adelaide. She rarely painted for other dealers or art centres.

In Australia, Kathleen Petyarre confirmed her growing reputation as one of the most gifted, original indigenous artists, when she won the prestigious 13th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 1996. In 2001, a book about her art, 'Genius of Place' was published in conjunction with a solo exhibition of her works at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

In 1997, she won the Visy Board Art Prize, and in 1998 was the winner of the People's Choice Award for the Seppelts Contemporary Art Award at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

By this time she had been collected by: The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; The Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide; The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; The University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide; The Edith Cowen University, Perth and The A.T.S.I.C. Collection, Adelaide.

Many private collectors avidly sought Kathleen's paintings from David Cossey at Australis Gallery and The Holt Family at Delmore Gallery. Her paintings were bought by the 
Holmes à Court Collection, The Kerry Stokes Collection, The Delmore Collection and The Thomas Vroom Collection.

Kathleen Petyarre has been one of the most successful Aboriginal artists, The Australian Art Collector has named her as one of 'the 50 most collectable artists in Australia'. Unfortunately, due to current serious health issues, Kathleen is unlikely to paint again.

View Kathleen Petyarre paintings

COLLECTIONS

Musee du quai Branly, Paris
The Museum & Art Galleries of the Northern Territories, Darwin
The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
The Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide
The John W. Kluge Collection, Charlottesville, VA, USA
The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
South Australian Museum, Adelaide
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide
Robert Holmes à Court Collection
Artbank, Sydney
Morven Estate Collection, Charlottesville, USA
Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Songlines Aboriginal Art, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Araluen Art Collection, Alice Springs
The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
The Holt Collection, Delmore Downs Station, N.T. 
The Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle, WA, USA
A.T.S.I.C. Collection, Adelaide
Riddoch Regional Art Gallery, Mount Gambier, S.A.
Edith Cowan University, Perth
Collection de Musee Nationale des Arts d’Afrique et d’Oceanie, Paris, France
Peabody - Essex Anthropology and Ethnology Museum, Harvard University, Salem, USA
The Hilton Group Superannuation Fund 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2008  Amazing 11: Amazing Women Artist from the Central and Western Deserts, Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store, Alice Springs
2007  Galerie Rigassi, Bern, Switzerland
2007  Gallery Anthony Curtis, Boston, USA
2006  Galerie Clement, Vevey, Switzerland
2006  Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA
2006  National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, USA
2006  Prism – Contemporary Australian Art at the Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo
2003  Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2002  Gallerie Commines, Paris, France
2002  Aboriginal Galleries of Australia, Melbourne
2001  Genius of Place - The work of Kathleen Petyarre, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
2000  Kathleen Petyarre, Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Sydney
2000  New Directions in Contemporary Aboriginal Painting, Songlines Gallery, USA
2000  Landscape: Truth and Beauty, Recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Alcaston Gallery
1999  Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1999  Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
1999  Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Surfers Paradise
1999  Recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Coo-ee Gallery, Mary Place, Sydney
1998  15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1998  Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide
1998  Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1998  Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
1998  Arnkerrthe - My Dreaming, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
1996  Kathleen Petyarre - Storm in Atnangkere Country, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne
1994  Kathleen Petyarre - Atnangkere Country, Delmore Gallery, via Alice Springs

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2017  The Golden Age of Utopia, Aboriginal Signature Estrangin gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2016  Utopia Sisters - The Petyarre Women, Delmore Gallery with RedSea Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
2007  The Petyarre Sisters 2007, Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store, Alice Springs
1998  Belonging to Mother Earth - Indigenous Wisdom and Healing Conference, Virginia Beach, USA
1998  Raiki Wara, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1998  Expanse: Aboriginalities, Spatialities and the Politics of Ecstasy, University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide
1998  Our Country - Then and Now, Gallerie Australia, Adelaide
1997  Schilderrijen mit Utopia, Songlines Aboriginal Art Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1997  Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Paintings, Songlines Aboriginal Art, Kassel, Germany
1996  Dreaming of the Desert, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
1996  Dreampower, Art of Contemporary Aboriginal Australia, Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
1990  Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Harvard University, USA
1989  A Summer Project. Utopia Women’s Painting, S.H.Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1989  Utopia Women, Coventry Gallery, Sydney, Australia (sourced from Delmore Gallery)

EXHIBITION OF BATIK SILKS

1988  Time Before Time, Austral Gallery, St Louis, USA
1988  Painting and Batik from the Desert, Utopia Art, Sydney, NSW
1988  Utopia Batik, Craft Council Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1988  Utopia Batik, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, QLD
1987  Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA
1987  Darwin Museum Gallery, Darwin, NT
1987  Yirrkala Community Centre, Northern Territory
1987  Jogyakarta Fine Art Academy, Indonesia
1987  Sydney Expo, Craft Council Gallery, Sydney, NSW
1987  The Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT
1986  Craft Council Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1986  Bundaberg Art Gallery, Queensland
1986  The Araluen Centre, Springs Craft Festival, Alice Springs, NT
1985  Black Women in Focus, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide, SA
1985  Burnie Gallery, Tasmania
1985  Tasmanian Craft Gallery, Hobart, TAS
1984  Craft Council Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1984  Queensland University Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
1984  Fireworks Gallery, Adelaide, SA
1984  Sydney Craft Expo, Sydney, NSW
1984  Darwin Craft Council Gallery, Darwin, NT
1984  The Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT
1983  Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, SA
1983  Alice Springs Craft Council, Alice Springs, NT
1982  Sydney Craft Expo, Sydney, NSW
1982  Brisbane Commonwealth Games Exhibition, Brisbane, QLD
1981  Floating Forests of Silks - Utopia Batik from the Desert, Adelaide Festival Centre, SA
1980  Artworks, Alice Springs, NT

COMMISSIONS

1997  John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

AWARDS

1999  Public Award Winner of the Seppelt Contemporary Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney
1998  Finalist, 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin
1997  Overall Winner of the Visy Board Art Prize, the Barossa Vintage Festival Art Show
1996  Joint Second Prize, open Award Category - The Third National Aboriginal & Torres Strait islander Heritage Commission Art Award, Canberra
1996  Overall winner of the Telstra 13th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award