A painting by the Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye has sold for $2.1m at auction in Sydney, ($1.6m/£1.2m; with buyer’s premium), setting a record sale price for an Australian female artist. The work, Earth’s Creation I (1994), which was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2015, was bought by the New York-based dealer Tim Olsen for a client.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Earth’s Creation I (1994)

The auction, held earlier this week, was organized by the companies Fine Art Bourse and Cooee Art Marketplace. Adrian Newstead, the director of the Cooee Art Gallery, says that the painting has been granted an export permit, implying that the work has been sold abroad.

At nearly twenty feet wide and nine feet high, Emily Kwame Kngwarreye’s painting Earth’s Creation is monumental in its scale and impact, rivaling Abstract Expressionist masterpieces by Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock not only in size but also in its painterly virtuosity. Patches of bold yellows, greens, reds, and blues seem to bloom like lush vegetation over the large canvas. Comprised of gestural, viscous marks, each swath of color traces the movement of the artist’s hands and body over the canvas, which would have been laid horizontally as she painted, seated on (or beside) and intimately connected to her art.

Tim Goodman, the executive chairman of Fine Art Bourse, says that “this sale will go a long way to breathing life back into the Aboriginal art market.” 

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