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Kitty Kantilla

Parlini Jilamara (Old Designs), 1996

natural earth pigments on Belgian Linen
118.0 x 101.0 cm
EST. $15,000 - $18,000



Bears catalogue number SC96002, title and dated 1/5/96 on Jilamara Arts and Crafts stamp on the reverse

Jilamara, NT 

Private Collection, SA

Sotheby’s, Important Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 28/06/1999, Lot No. 179  Private Collection, WA

A seemingly abstract iconography lies at the heart of Kitty Kantilla’s art. Far from being non-representational, however, the different combination of dots, lines and blocks of colour called jilamara (design) together invoke inside elements of ritual and reveal the essence of Kantilla’s cultural identity.

Like other Tiwi artists, Kantilla gained the stuff of her art-making in ceremonial contexts before learning to express her individuality by carving and painting objects of the Pukumani (mourning) ceremony. In explaining her work the artist says, ‘The jilamara that I do, it’s my father’s design. I watched him as a young girl and I’ve still got the design in my head.’

Kantilla’s Pumpuni jilamara is composed largely of densely textured blocks of colour on black or white – Kantilla’s elegant geometry is broken by minor segments of dots and lines. The artist is working with broader gestures and fields of cloudy white, intense red and dense yellow on black: chords in a four-part harmony. Most of the composition consists of solid ochre fields, infused with tonal and textural variations: the end result remains a measured and balanced synthesis and has an adagio rhythm.

- National Gallery of Victoria