This painting represents Dorothy’s most reductive style to date. Starting from her most important Jukurrpa which revolves around the extremely important women’s site of Mina Mina, here the viewer finds the quintessential of the artist’s iconongraphy – the dot, each representing a napangardi or napanangka (aunt or niece, interchangeable) – excised of colour in order to fully display its strength.
The women travel in tandem across the landscape, stopping all the while to hunt, dance and sing. As each reconnects both individually and together with their place the travelling tracks converge and coalesce. It is here that we find the key to this Warlpiri woman’s very existence: in this excising of colour and decorative element until only the journey itself is left to speak about what is. Nothing superfluous, nothing obvious or even superficially overwhelming - such as great stretches of spinifex - is excluded. We see the tracks, see where these aunt and niece groups have returned to, see where they have stopped and where the connection is at its most intense.
The build and build-up of black dotting across the canvas reaches out to the viewer, projecting forward, a gathering of energy. From another perspective it could be reversed to see the indentation of the women’s footprints in the sand, where they have danced, back and forth, feet hitting earth and dust rising up. Yet the most important element remains: those women, that place, feet connecting all. This connection with the land is not about feeling kinship when everything is particularly fecund, one place replaceable by the next. The earth’s very features are dependent upon those figures that call them into being; those figures called into being by the earth itself.
And the paths stretch on, crossing and merging; speaking stories that reach far beyond the confines of the work’s very surface; stretching well beyond the limitations of the rectangular form. It is the confidence of Dorothy Napangardi’s connection with her land that sees the work call forth to the viewer with such power. It is her boldness as an artist that allows the painting its success. It is its plainness, its very essence.
One of the leading artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, Napangardi’s work is highly sought after by both collectors and curators worldwide. Her paintings and prints have been widely exhibited and are in all national collections within Australia and in major collections worldwide including most recently the MET, New York. Napangardi had the honour of being the 2nd indigenous artist to be given a solo survey exhibition at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Sydney that traced 11 years of her painting career in 1991.