Contemporary collectibles

THE powerful role contemporary art plays in the success of some indigenous artists is highlighted in a collection of works currently on show in Perth.

The works, at Indigenart in Subiaco, are by a group of female Aboriginal artists of the Pintupi group, located 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

Put together by the Ikuntji Arts Women’s Centre art coordinator Kate Podger, Pintupi Women Artists of Haast’s Bluff has a strong graphic quality, with the vibrant colours a dramatic departure from the subdued earthy tones many people associate with indigenous artwork.

The contemporary, graphic qualities of many of the works have captured the imagination of the predominantly white collectors.

There is no doubt the works that capture some of the aesthetic value of mainstream contemporary art command impressive price tags.

These highly sought-after works are very attractive items for the growing number of people keen to invest in art.

The Pintupi women have been painting since about 1992 under the careful direction of Ms Podger.

Some of the key artists who have been a part of the Ikuntji Arts Women’s Centre from its inception include Mitjili Naparrula and Marlee Naparrula.

“Mitjili is very collectable … her work is established in the art market on the merit of its painterliness in the contemporary art scene and the indigenous contemporary art scene,” Ms Podger said.

However, the striking colours and the strong graphic quality of the works doesn’t detract form the strong spiritual narrative that underpins them.

The Ikuntji women don’t speak about the stories, however, preferring to protect these potent cultural narratives and keep them within the confines of the indigenous group.

“These stories are sacred and the women got savvy to the white fella ways,” Ms Podger said.

“My role is to nurture talent, identify fabulous art and identify work which is of a museum quality and to guide artists … to have quality control.

“There are about 20 women and part of my role is to develop a new bunch of young men and young women.”

Alice Nampitjinpa is the most collected of all the artists in the group, which Ms Podger explains is because of the works’ appeal to both the contemporary art market and buyers interested in collecting indigenous works.

“My role is to encourage skill and keep the niche market,” she said.

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