WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following article contains images of deceased persons.
Luritja, Pintupi, and Pitjantjatjara man Kunmanara Carroll was a painter and ceramics artist who used his works to pass on cultural knowledge from his father’s Country of Walungurru in the Northern Territory. Based in Pukatja in the north of South Australia, Carroll was selected by art gallery JamFactory for their annual ICON exhibition, which celebrates influential crafts-based artists working in the state. Pepai Jangala Carroll: Ngaylu Nyanganyi Ngura Winki (I Can See All Those Places) is on display at the Adelaide gallery until September 26.
Carroll had a minimalistic style full of muted colour schemes, subtle shifts in tone, and meandering lines that he both painted across vast canvases and incised into sgraffito stoneware. All of these designs are imbued with Carroll’s deep knowledge of Walungurru Country and its people’s heritage. Some of his featured subjects include the rocky country of Ilpili; the cultural site of Yumari, whose name translates as ‘mother’ in Luritja law; and Wanampi, the water serpent. Carroll often names his pieces after the cultural images and figures they feature, leading to recurring titles that in their repetition give strength to the knowledge they bear.
For the new exhibition, one of Carroll’s paintings was also turned into a large woven tapestry by the Australian Tapestry Workshop to be exhibited alongside his completely original works. Titled Ilpili, the work depicts part of the Seven Sisters story, where two women tell each other stories by a rock hole while a wati (man) watches from behind a puli (boulder). Although the image only uses three base colours, like in all of Carroll’s works, these minimalist foundations come together in stunning patterns and layers, creating a rich design that embodies the physical and spiritual beauty of Carroll’s custodial Country.
Once the JamFactory exhibition closes at the end of this month, Pepai Jangala Carroll: Ngaylu Nyanganyi Ngura Winki (I Can See Those Places) will be touring twelve venues around Australia, with the support of a publication of the same name that features photographs of the artworks as well as essays. If the exhibit arrives in a city near you, consider making time to visit – it’s an amazing opportunity to see the work of this well-respected artist.
For more art exhibitions that explore the artist’s own culture, read our article on Cameroonian artist Ajarb Bernard Atwega’s Kwata Saloon.
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