Exhibition Preview: Sally Gabori Retrospective

| May 21, 2016

Dibirdibi Country 2011 || All Images: QAGOMA

Words by Ryan Grice

TW: This article may contain images and/or names of deceased persons.

ART Has No Demographic…

Retrospectives are inherently something of a double-edged sword in that you are able to appreciate an artist’s change and progression over time, but being in the presence of so many pieces that were only one part of a larger body of work can be distracting and make them feel unintentionally independent. Overcoming the complications of engaging with multiple bodies of work, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda/Sally Gabori Dulka Warngiid/Land of All retrospective will be a show that will draw crowds. Understandably so in several respects, but even for the casual viewer Sally’s colour matching is striking and effective throughout. Though it becomes tonally darker towards the end, there is far more depth and intrigue there too.

Ninjilki 2008

What makes the above even more amazing is that Sally didn’t pick up a paint brush until the age of 81. She spent her first 23 years living a traditional life on Bentinck Island before being moved by Presbyterian missionaries, following drought and cyclones, to Mornington Island in the 1940s. All of her work, over 2000 pieces, were created in the final decade of her life. Another curio is that the clan Sally came from, the Kaiadilt, seem to have no record of any art practice whatsoever. The exhibition also features the artist’s painting table which is stunning in itself, but also a curious look behind the scenes of her process.

As far as defining art, verdicts will eternally vary, but within the loose concept of the artist expressing her world through her eyes, Sally succeeds in exercising variation in the expression of the many images of her homeland with continuity and vision. Abstract expressionism always begs many questions, especially when it comes to points of reference, major galleries, and price tags, so the exhibition makes for a visually pleasing and thought provoking outing, if you are so inclined.

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori – Dulka Warngiid Land of All retrospective is on at Brisbane’s Queensland Art Gallery 21 May – 21 AUG.

For more information visit QAGOMA.

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Category: ART, FEATURED, Uncategorized

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