Lena Nyadbi, Dayiwul and jimbirla ngarrangkarni (WAC 288/09), 2009, natural ochre and pigments on canvas 80 x 100cm
(in association with Warmun Art Centre)
Lena Nyadbi's country calls out for her to paint and she knows it intimately. She is most happy when she visits her country, that country knows her and she can speak to that place and of her 'leeyan' for Jimbirla (Spearhead) Country and Dayiwul (Barramundi) Country; her inner feeling for her father's and mother's country, the places where she is now boss for that country.
The power in Lena Nyadbi's paintings is not achieved so much from aesthetic ambition, but from the inseparable connections between her physical being, her land, her ancestors, identity, art, and the rhythms of life itself. To talk to Lena of her paintings is to talk of those connections, to gaze into her country and its creation stories. Lena Nyadbi openly and generously reveals her inner strength and her presence through her paintings. There seems to be no need to impress and the rich spare aesthetic contradicts the complex origins of her subject. Land as identity is inherent and all consuming. It is undeniable. It is embodied in the work. The paint, the painting and the painter are the land. There is no talk out loud of composition, form or colour even though these are mixed and applied with meticulous care and profound concentration. Choices are made, and as Lena thinks deeply about her country, the aesthetic wonder of her painting unfolds in ochres on canvas.
There is no single point perspective to Nyadbi's paintings, only the limits of the canvas marking temporary boundaries to her conception of place. Natural earth pigments dug as rocks and ochre from Gija country are ground and crushed with mortar and pestle, mixed with glue and applied. Nyadbi's method is direct and unselfconscious. Rich creamy gritty earth colours are dragged, caressed and brushed. The earth paints are sometimes rubbed into the canvas by hand or applied layer after layer. The paintings are not 'landscape' in a pictorial sense but are of 'the land', above, beneath and moving through the country and through time. In many of the works, exquisite blends of earth pigments and ochres reflect the different coloured stones of Jimbirla country arranged as strokes that dance across the canvas in almost audible rhythms.
(excerpt from Lena Nyadbi: Painting My Country - Always by Maggie Fletcher, published by Warmun Art Aboriginal Corporation and Niagara Galleries, 2010)
We are delighted that Lena Nyadbi will be travelling to Melbourne for the exhibition opening.
The publication Lena Nyadbi: Painting my Country - Always will be available at the exhibition. Please contact the gallery for further details or to arrange a private preview of the works prior to the exhibition