As with her sisters, Kathleen and Poly Ngal, Angelina began producing batiks and wooden sculptures in the mid 1980’s, probably influenced by her late husband, the older brother of Cowboy Loy Pwerl. She was formerly known as Angelina ‘Pwerl’, her husband’s name. Pwerl(e) in Alyawarr language is the equivalent to Ngal in the Anmatyerr language, and it is as Angelina Ngal that she is referred to today. She began painting as part of the CAAMA ‘summer project’ in 1988-9 and, already at 40 years of age, was included in the first exhibiton of Utopia women’s paintings held in Alice Springs in 1980.
Angelina quickly adapted to painting on canvas and subsequently gained international recognition. Her work can be seen as a contemporary dialogue or translation of the cultural, geographic, social and religious components of Anmatjerre life. Her intimate renditions of country are delicately layered and can be read and appreciated at a superficial level for their abstraction and painterliness. At a deeper level, however, they depict the cultural and social mores of the society in which she lives.
Angelina paints her grandfather’s country, Arlparra. Many of her paintings depict the Bush Plum, which she represents through a focus of red dots into which she merges a variety of minute and painstakingly rendered coloured dots, ensuring that the tiny red dot is always centered and clear. She has further extended her painting, producing a range of exquisitely coloured compositions that maintain a layer of meaning related to the Bush Plum, in which points of geography, knowledge of places, and memories of hunting or ceremonial business result in a subtle and textured surface that hints to the viewer of an ethereal numinous landscape.
Following exhibitions with Niagara Gallery, her inclusion in the Sydney and Melbourne Art Fairs, and more recently with Lauraine Diggins in Melbourne, interest in and admiration for Angelina’s paintings has grown rapidly. She was a finalist in the 2008 Wynne Prize for Landscape painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and this was followed by her inclusion in the exhibition Emily Kgngwarreye and her Legacy at the Art Front Gallery in Tokyo, Japan 2008, and an exhibition of Utopia art at Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London in 2009.
Angelina Ngal’s exquisite abstract aesthetic has now established her as one of the pre-eminent artists from the Utopia community. The work illustrated is a fine example of her strongest work. It embodies a wonderful synthesis of contemporary abstraction and Indigenous ethereality by imparting a feeling for both the physical, and the spiritual nature of her Arlparra homeland in the Eastern Desert.