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ALBERT NAMATJIRA (1902-1959)
“Ghost Gums, Glen Helen near Alice Springs”
Signed Lower Right
Provenance: Private Collection, NSW. Letter with this work from the family referring to provenance.
The word ”iconic” may have been coined for this Albert Namatjira painting. It is simply a classic. It is Namatjira at his outstanding best. It is a striking composition of his favourite subjects, graceful great ghost gums and the spectacular landscape around Alice Springs. This is gorgeous Glen Helen Gorge, a sweeping rocky incline in strong outback ochre colours in the mid-foreground and the rugged vertical ranges in the background, their hues softer with light and distance. A sleek gum tree frames the view, lush and leafy except for sharp and blackened, broken limbs which recall lightning strikes and bushfires of yore. That the artist chose such a tree shows how he adds a storyline to the landscape. Namatjira’s landscapes are not passive. They are part of a greater song-line picture. They are places imbued with ancient beliefs. They are sacred lands of the Aranda people.
Namatijira, Australia’s famous pioneer indigenous artist, is regarded as the founder of the Hermannsburg School of Painting. He was a prolific painter with a keen eye for the subtleties of colour in the world around him and the technical ability to reproduce that wealth of delicate hues. Many have emulated his style but few come anywhere near his remarkable mastery.
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