Mossenson Galleries in conjunction with Bindi Inc and Mwerre Anthurre Artists are pleased to invite you to the first joint exhibition of these talented siblings. Reunited: Billy Benn Perrurle and Gladdy Kemarre will be opened by Professor Fiona Stanley AC, Director, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at 6-9pm Wednesday 15 April 2009. For more information please contact Mossenson Galleries Subiaco on (08) 9388 2899 or email@example.com. Part proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.
My memories are stronger now, so it’s memory, here, in the brain. Always I’m thinking of nice things in my paintings. I’m painting the feeling of being really good and happy all the time. Billy Benn Perrurle.
At first sight, there seems little similarity between the paintings of Gladdy Kemarre and her younger sibling Billy Benn Perrurle. Although both artists depict aspects of their homelands near Harts Range in the eastern desert, their aesthetics seem worlds apart. In the paintings of Billy Benn, the Harts Range are depicted in broad expressionistic brushstrokes. Wild swathes of colour are contrasted with dramatic patches of darkness, creating a world in which Nicolas Rothwell has found “grief, complexity and depth lurk inside the landscape.” These are the brooding expressions of a former stockman, miner and metalworker – recollections of a childhood home rarely visited in adulthood. In contrast, the paintings of Gladdy Kemarre exhibit a patient refinement; layers of delicate dots being overlayed in a sparkling mediation on the interconnectedness of all this. These are women’s stories; spatial and spiritual reflections on the philosophy of the Dreaming as it binds us all together.
And yet, whether through the abstract brushstrokes of Billy Benn or the gentle calligraphy of dots of Gladdy Kemarre, it is the same landscape of Artetyerre that slowly emerges as a memory map that invites us to to share their sacred bond with the landscape.
Since commencing painting in the late 1990s, Billy Benn Perrurle has become recognised as one of the nation’s most exciting landscape artists. Born around 1947, Billy worked extensively in his country, in the mines of Harts Range, and later pumping water for cattle and droving sheep. With a vivid style that combines bold experiments in colour, texture and material, Billy Benn’s work quickly came to attention of curators and critics. Living in Alice Springs, Billy Benn rarely has the opportunity to return to Artetyerre, so his paintings float upon the canvas as the intangible but bittersweet records of his recollections of happier times. As Catherine Peattie notes, “Carrying the country within, Billy Benn says when he sees the country in his mind’s eye his spirit is there, and his spirit lifts. The paintings are imbued with such a sense of place that laws of time and space become circular as we the viewer are transported to this country.”
In Gladdy Kemarre’s paintings, we are similarly transported to her country, but via a wholly different aesthetic metaphysics. Involved in the Utopia art movement since its inception in the late 1970s, Gladdy Kemarre paint alkwe, the bush plum, a Dreaming story given to her by her Grandmother. Viewed from above, the changing seasonal colours of the bush plum dominate the flora on the ground in Ahalpere country. The story of the bush plum is crucial to Alywarre and Anmatyerre women’s ceremonies, and intertwines with that of the whole country. Their vital and delicate paintings are rich in depth, subtlety and sheer vibrancy and energy of colour and design. Shimmering constellations of fruit emerge in these paintings from tiny points of colour that are meticulously worked into shifting layers.
Alkwe are a source of physical and spiritual sustenance for the Anmatyerre. The story of Alkwe is important to women’s ceremonies and connects Ahalpere land with the whole country. Like her brother, Gladdy’s paintings represent an invitation into a process of collective memory. Through both their reference to ceremonial body painting and through their invocation of the continuum of the Dreaming, they present both a spatial and temporal circularity that acts as a visual metaphor for the relationship between the local and the universal.
Although siblings, Gladdy Kemarre and Billy Benn Perrurle have followed very different artistic paths, and yet, both paths have produced works that celebrate their country through the seemingly intangible process of memory. Both artists have been critically lauded for their works, which are held in major collections across Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. In 2007 Billy Benn was awarded the Alice Prize and in 2009 Gladdy Kemarre was selected as a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Text copyright Mossenson Galleries