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Purple Gorge

Purple Gorge
signed 'ALBERT NAMATJIRA' (lower right); titled 'Purple Gorge' on gallery label (on the reverse)
52.5 x 35.2 cm
John Gild Galleries, Perth
Private collection, Perth
Special notice
A 10% Goods and Services tax (G.S.T) will be charged on the Buyer's Premium on all lots in this sale.

Lot Essay

The 'phenomenon' of Albert Namatjira against the completx socio-historic climate of the first half of Australia's twentieth century, strongly indicates how original and important his work is in Australian art history. In the winter of 1936 visiting watercolorist Rex Battarbee revisited the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission and provided Namatjira with two months watercolour tuition while on a journey into the heart of the tribal land of the Western Aranda. Namatjira offered his services as camel boy in return for painting lessons. Battarbee was amazed at the rapid progress of his pupil and later noted:
'Albert quickly understood the rules of perspective, composition and the way of seeing colour and setting down on paper. He understood and utilised the fundamentals of art that had taken some people many years to learn'
With only two months' tuition from Battarbee and never having visited an art gallery or been exposed to the great art works of the western world, Namatjira seized and fashioned the watercolour medium making it his own. Seamlessly adopting a European technique and style, Namatjira depicted evocative representations of country that was all his own.
Ghost gums and gorges are two visual forms and motifs that engaged Namatjira throughout his painting career. In Purple Gorge we see his trademark display of light, high colour, space and linearity. Unusually the presence of still pale blue water in this work provides a calming contrast to the escarpment which is conceived in dramatic hues of purple.
Namatjira masterfully and harmoniously linked two vastly different cultures in his presentation of his relationship with the Australian landscape. However it was always within the broader context of his people, their stories, totemic associations and 'aboriginality'.


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