Lot 73
  • 73

Emily Kame Kngwarreye circa 1910-1996

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Wild Yam 2
  • Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
  • 150cm by 240cm


Painted at Delmore Downs Station, Northern Territory, in August 1995, Delmore Gallery catalogue number 95H104
The Holt Collection
The Thomas Vroom Collection, The Netherlands


Be My Guest, AAMU, 27 May 2011 - 8 January 2012 (This painting was shown alongside a work by Sol LeWitt with of similar size)


Jennifer Isaacs et al, Emily Kngwarreye Paintings, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1998, pp.172-173, plate 72

Catalogue Note

Wild Yam 2, 1995, was painted in August 1995, during a particularly creative period at the end the artist’s long life which saw her produce some of her most important paintings. In July 1995 she painted the monumental Big Yam Dreaming, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (illustrated in Isaacs 1998, pages 168-9, plate 71), and just prior to painting Wild Yam 2, in August she painted large scale Yam Awelye now in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia (illustrated in Isaacs 1998, pages 170-1, plate 72, and in Grishin, S., Australian Art: A history, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 2013, page 456, plate 41.11 where a detail appears on the cover).

These three works were painted with a bravura born of decades of mark making, yet they reflect an inner resolve and quiet contemplative aura that is found in the work of great artists coming to the end of their lifetimes. The paintings are defining expressions of a concept that Kngwarreye carried throughout her work, the relationship between the body and the canvas, the physicality of the gesture and the scale of the painting support, that which the art historian Sasha Grishin refers to these as ‘the rhythmic human scale of performance in her linear mark making’ (Grishin 2013:457). These paintings also situate the artist within her ancestral landscape. Kngwarreye identified herself through her principal totem, kame, the seed of the pencil yam: the torrents of markings in these pictures are the spread of the roots of the yam throughout her country, Alhalkere, transforming the paintings into personalised landscapes, replete with ancestral energy and brilliance, as the artist pondered, perhaps, the ancestral realm she was about to enter.