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Rover Thomas, I want to Paint 21 February - 9 May 2004
Rover Thomas, Kankamkankami, 1998

Drawing on works from the Holmes � Court Collection and State gallery collections from across the country, the Art Gallery of New South Wales announces a major exhibition by one of Australia's great artists, Rover Thomas.

Rover Thomas: I want to paint opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Saturday, 21 February 2004. Featuring 19 seminal works, this exhibition celebrates Rover Thomas' contribution to contemporary art.

Thomas was first and foremost a great painter. His paintings are a form of visual language where stories of 'country', present and past, are a counterpoint to his direct observation of the landscape and its culturally significant features.

His is a unique vision and style that while reflecting aspects of East Kimberley rock art and ceremonial body paintings owed little to other well-known forms of Aboriginal art. The deceptively simple yet powerful imagery of his paintings unequivocally stamps his work as a form of sophisticated, modernist abstraction of universal appeal.

His stark representations of the country, highlighted by his eloquent mastery of form and his bold use of natural pigments, have become synonymous with the Kimberley region.

Rover Thomas' works capture his connection and affinity with the land. His landscapes don't simply depict the surrounding geography, but instead embrace its entirety through the spirituality of the Ngarrangkarni (Dreaming) and the events of the physical world.

Rover Thomas (c.1926-1998) Kukatja/Wangkajunga, was born at Gunawaggi, Well 33, on the Canning Stock Route in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. In the late 1970s he began to paint inspired by the Gurirr Gurirr, a ceremonial dance cycle that came to him in his dreams.

Participants performing the Gurirr Gurirr ceremony would carry boards that depicted specific verses of the ceremony. Rover Thomas and Paddy Jaminji were the main artists to create these boards, and it was these works that would capture the attention of the art world.

Within just a few years, Rover Thomas gained national and international recognition. In 1990 Rover Thomas and Trevor Nickolls were the first Indigenous Australian artists to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale.

Rover Thomas: I want to paint is organised by The Holmes � Court Gallery, Heytesbury, Western Australia.


On view:21 February - 9 May 2004
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information (02) 9225 1790
National Toll Free 1800 679 278
Hours:10am to 5pm, 7 days a week
Art After Hours Wednesday nights until 9pm
Admission:Free of Charge
Media Information and Interviews:Jan Batten, Press Office
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Telephone (02) 9225 1791 or 0418 279 348

IMAGE CREDIT: Rover Thomas, Kankamkankami, 1998