National Museum of Women in the Arts
Kathleen Petyarre
1940 - present
Photograph of Kathleen Petyarre, courtesy of Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, Australia
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
Kath-LEEN pet-yar-ay
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting, Textiles and clothing
Artistic Role(s):
Batik Artist, Painter, Printmaker, Textile Artist
Traditional Art
Artist's Biography:
The paintings of Kathleen Petyarre have been compared internationally to those of the minimalist modern artists Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin, not so much for their formal structure: but for what underlies beneath, partially hidden from the observers view. In actuality, Kathelen Petyarre’s paintings are mental territorial maps which portray her country and the narrative associated with her inherited Dreaming stories.
Her celebrated works, Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming, when presented on a grand scale, depict the whole of her ancestral country (which covers some 200 square kilometers of the eastern desert of central Australia), whilst other works, like the My Country and Rock-holes series, present a seasonal snapshot within: a close-up of a geographical location spiritually important to the artist.

Since her first works-on-canvas appeared in 1988 in the collaborative Utopia exhibition ’A Summer Project’ (The Holmes a' Court Collection), Kathleen Petyarre’s oeuvre has always been identified by her deft minimalist overtures. Now, in the summer of 2004/5, we see a new style of work emerging, bolder, perhaps more abstract, certainly more modern in it’s technicality and presentation, yet each work retains her signature form and elegant style of delicacy. Through her beautiful and highly evocative paintings, Kathleen Petyarre continues to retain her position at the forefront of the Australian contemporary art movement.

Biography courtesy of Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, Australia

Other Occupation(s):
Place(s) of Residence:
Mosquito Bore on Utopia Station
Where Trained/Schools:
Bush workshop on Batik, Utopia Station, Australia (1977)
Related Visual Artists:
skin group niece of Emily Kame Kngwarreye skin group sister of Gloria Tamerre Petyarre skin group sister of Ada Bird Petyarre skin group sister of Violet Petyarre skin group sister of Myrtle Petyarre skin group grandmother and teacher of Abie Loy Kemarre
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Finalist, 1998 Seppelts Contemporary Art Award-Visual Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (1998) Overall Winner of the VisyBoard Art Prize, Barossa Vintage Festival Art Show, Nurioopta, Australia (1997)
Earliest exhibition:
A Summer Project, The Robert Holmes a' Court Collection, Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, Australia (1988)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters
Artist retrospective(s):
Genuis of Place: The work of Kathleen Petyarre, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2001)