Born around 1928, Kudditji Kngwarreye, the skin brother of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye, had a traditional bush upbringing in the Utopia region before starting a long career as a stockman and mine worker. An Anmatyerre elder and custodian of many important Dreamings, Kudditji was inspired by the work coming out of Papunya to paint his own Dreamings, telling of the travels and law of the Emu ancestors.
Starting in 1986, his precisely dotted Emu Dreaming paintings, featuring ranks of coloured roundels and other ‘hieroglyphs’ on a chequered or dotted background, became sought after by major galleries in the Northern Territory. Breaking out of this style after some years, Kudditji’s work became far looser and more ‘abstract’. The demand for his earlier, detailed style, however, moved Kudditji to return to it, and it was only in 2003 that he began to exhibit the extraordinary, saturated colour paintings that have seen his reputation grow nationally and internationally.
The new paintings, in fact, have several styles, and Kudditji has explored size of canvas as well as form in these intense, beautiful works. A sense of immense space can be felt in the “My Country” paintings, where massive blocks of stippled colour are laid alongside each other, sometimes using only two colours, while in other paintings a quilt of juxtaposed colours produces a landscape effect.
Kudditji Kngwarreye’s works, powerful, bold and striking represent the final stage in Kudditji’s evolution as an artist. His works have progressed from the restrained, meticulously executed Emu Dreaming stories to stunning bold abstracts using bold sweeping brush strokes and striking combination of colours. The works capture the very essence of Kudditji’s country Utopia, Central Australia.
Like his famous older sister, Kudditji is a custodian of this country. Although both Emily and her brother developed a more abstract style in the later years, they both remained faithful to their designated Dreaming stories.