Karntakurlangu (Women's Dreaming), 2006
In this beautiful work the artist Dorothy Napangardi depicts a major women’s ceremonial site known as Mina Mina, her custodial country, which is located near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert, north of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory.
To portray her Mina Mina the artist has created a striking check-like design in yellow and white on a black background. This painting can be read like a map through which the women move; across the terrain, around the soakages of Mina Mina and it’s crustations of salt; through the spinifex clumps and over the sandhills. The artist’s fascination with rather rigid geometrics coupled with linear movements creates a push and pull effect, pulling the eye of the viewer up and down, inwards and outwards, pushing it from one point to the next. It is her ability to keep the viewer continually engaged whilst reading her work that sees Dorothy Napangardi receiving the recognition that she is.
Karntakurlangu literally translates from Warlpiri language into ‘Belonging to Women’. The site depicted is Mina Mina, a sacred women’s site which is located on the far west border of the Northern Territory, near the Western Australian border, close to the great salt lake of Lake MacKay. It comprises of a large claypan that fills with water after rain surrounded by large desert oak trees (Allocasuarina decaisneana). During the Dreaming women of the Napangardi (Dorothy’s ‘skin’ name) and Napanangka (aunties for the Napangardi kinship) sang and danced this country into existence. This is how traditional knowledge is passed on – from auntie (father’s sisters) to niece.
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.