Born in February 1972, the young Eastern Anmatyerr artist Abie Loy Kemarre comes with an impeccable artistic pedigree. Granddaughter of the Kathleen Petyarre, who has also been her artistic mentor, Abie is also closely related to a host of other famous women artists who are well-known names in the Australian art world. Among Abie Kemarre’s relatives who are also painters are Gloria Petyarre, Ada Bird Petyarre and the late Emily Kngwarreye, to name but a few.
Yet despite being part of an impressive multi-generational artistic dynasty – the Indigenous equivalent of being a member of the Boyd family – Abie Loy’s work on its own merits. Kemarre’s work has not come to public attention because she is artistically well connected – far from it. In a nutshell, Abie Loy Kemarre is simply the most talented and exciting young Indigenous artist – or for that matter, Australian artist – to emerge for some years.
As a young child in the late 1970s and early 1980s at remote Utopia, almost three hundred kilometres north east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Abie closely observed her older women relatives working with batik. As a result, Abie Kemarre was still very young when she began to nurture a strong ambition to succeed as an artist:
…When I was a little girl I would watch my grandmother Kathleen Petyarre and all the other mob doing the silk, making the silk. I began learning doing silk with Kathleen. Kathleen was also a schoolteacher at our school, Utopia School…When I was a very young child my grandmother told me she wanted me to be [an] artist – I love painting and so I thought it over and decided to be an artist then. Ever since those days of watching closely those ladies doing silk I wanted to be an artist too…When my grandmother Kathleen turned to painting [in the 1980s], I watched that closely too, and ever since, I’ve always been an artist.
Under the sometimes-formidable guidance of her grandmother, Abie Loy’s talent has blossomed. For such a young person, she is a highly disciplined artist, often working and reworking ideas many times until she is satisfied with the outcome. Not only does Kemarre possess a strong technical command of all aspects of painting, including line, intrinsic form and surface quality, use of colour, and overall balance of composition, but, importantly, Abie Loy Kemarre is also willing to experiment with all of these elements. Kemarre is experimental in her work to the extent permitted by Eastern Anmatyerr law, of which she is deeply observant. Artistic experimentation is a conscious process for Kemarre and has resulted in some of her best and most recent work, examples of which are included in this exhibition.
Under Eastern Anmatyerr Law, Abie Loy Kemarre has the right to portray several Dreamings. These include the Bush Hen (Turkey) Dreaming and Bush Leaf Dreaming.
The Bush Leaf Dreaming is an inheritance from Abie’s father’s side. The bush leaf grows in a swamp near some sandhills close to the Utopia region in Abie’s grandfather’s country and it is known for its wonderful curative properties. These bush leaves are able to cure a whole range of illnesses including colds, headaches, and sores.
The Bush Leaf, as a Dreaming, is closely associated with women, and is a shape-shifter, a state-changer, possessing the ability to transform herself from her bush leaf-form into a woman and back into a leaf again. The aspect of the Bush Leaf Dreaming that Abie paints belongs to women only.
The accompanying Dreaming narrative contains a good deal of information about the precise locations of this leaf, in arid parts of the country.
The bush leaf is painfully shy. When people touch the leaves or pick this leaf she dies of embarrassment, because of the shame of being touched. Yet magically, although the leaf withers under the gaze and touch of people who covet the leaves of this plant, she has the capacity to regenerate herself and brings herself back to life after.
This story not only discloses some of the properties of this fascinating plant, but acts as a metaphor for the artist herself: a young woman who in some circumstances is painfully shy, but whose artistic talent is potentially a source of great fecundity.
Flinders University, South Australia.
MusÃ©e des Confluences, Lyon, France.
2005 - Abie Loy Kemarre, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
2004 - Abie Loy Kemarre - First Sydney Solo exhibition, Cooee Gallery, Sydney.
2003 - Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT.
2012 - Paris Art Fair, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2011 - Art Elysees, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2011 - Galerie AROA & Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Neuilly sur Seine, France.
2011 - Parcours des Mondes, featuring the work of Abie Loy Kemarre, Crusoe Kurddal, Djambawa Marawili, Ngoia Napaltjarri, Walter Brown Napanangka, Dorothy Napangardi, Dennis Nona, Andrea Martin Nungarrayi, Alick Tipoti, Paddy Stewart Tjapaltjarri, Arts d?Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2010 - Desert Art: Collection 2010 featuring the work of Abie Loy Kemarre, Kathleen Petyarre, Molly Napurrurla Tasman, Rosie Murnku Marnku, Napurrurla Tasman, Lily Nungarrayi Yirdingali Jurrah Hargraves, Gadfly Gallery, Perth, WA.
2010 - Parcours des Mondes, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2010 â€“ Art Elysees, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2010 - Grand Nord-Grand Sud. Artistes Inuits et Aborigenes, Abbaye de Daoulas, Bretagne, France
2009 - Art Elysees 2009, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2008 - Emily Kngwarreye and her Legacy, featuring the following artists: Abie Kemarre Loy, Emily Kngwarreye, Gladdy Kemarre, Gloria Petyarre, Kathleen Ngal, Kathleen Petyarre, Lily Lion Kngwarrey, Minnie Pwerle, Poly Ngal, Sarah Morton Kngwarrey, presented by Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney at Art Front Gallery, Hillside Terrace, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.
2008 - Black and White - an exhibition of Aboriginal works by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Abie Loy Kemarre, Judy Watson Napangardi, Gloria Petyarre, Lily Sandover Kngwarreye, Nogia Polard Napalgarri, Ningura Napurrula, Kathleen Petyarre, Dorothy Napangardi, Rusy Peters at NG Art Gallery Sydney, in collaboration with Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery.
2008 - Parcours des Mondes, Artists displayed:, Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri, John Wilson, Dorothy Napangardi, Abie Loy Kemarre, Julie Robinson Nangala, Peggy Rockman NAPALJARRI, Jimmy An.Gunguna, Bob Burrawal, Alice Nampitjinpa, Gloria Tamerre Petyarre, Arthur Tjatitjarra Robertson, Alick Tipoti, Nawurapu Wunungmurra, Dymphna Kerinauia, Immaculata Tipiloura, Pantjiya Nungurrayi, Roy Wiggan, Lena Nyadbi, Michael Boiyool Anning, Ken Thaiday, Dennis Nona, Sam Tjampitjin, Thomas Rice Jangala, Ningie Nangala, Eva Nargoodah, Boliny Wanambi, Milminya Dhamarrandji, Galuma Maymuru, Yuyuya Nampitjinpa, Josephine Napurrula, Judy Mengil, Susie Hunter Petyarre, Sarah Morton, Nandabitta, Paul Nabulumo Namarinjmak, Terry Ngamandara, Marina Mardilanj, Arts d Australie Stephane Jacob, Paris, France; Lille Art Fair, Artists displayed:, Abie Loy Kemarre, Ningie Nangala, Julie Robinson Nangala, Dennis NONA, Alick Tipoti, Dorothy Napangardi, Kayi Kayi Nampitjinpa Kngwarreye, Walangari Karntawarra Jakamarra, Mulkun Wirrpanda , Alice Nampitjinpa, Yinimala Gumana, Melba Kanjarwanga, Samson BONSON, Haleema Djorlom, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Lille, France.
2007 - Parcours des Mondes, Galerie Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris.
2007 - Kaos, Parcours des Mondes, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris, France.
2006 - The second Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Shalom College, University of New South Wales, Sydney; Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob 10th anniversary, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris; St-Art - European Art Fair, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Strasbourg, France; Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, USA.
2003 - Gallerie Australis, SA; Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs NT; My Grandmother and Me, World Vision Walkabout Gallery.