Angelina Pwerle

“Angelina Pwerle’s paintings so effectively create an impression of a mysterious and distant place that they are often thought to represent galaxies in the night sky – rather than the terrestrial world that is their subject.” Anne Marie Brody, Marking the infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia, exhibition catalogue, 2016.

Angelina Pwerle’s meticulously executed, beautifully detailed paintings are predominantly concerned with the representation of Bush Plum Dreaming, a subject of cultural, social and ceremonial importance, celebrating both physical and spiritual nourishment. Pwerle’s work has become increasingly pared back over time. Utilising a spare palette, Pwerle uses a wooden skewer to make miniscule marks upon the surface of her canvases. As the process is incredibly time consuming, Pwerle may only complete one or two major works in any one year.

Coming to national and international prominence in recent years, Pwerle’s work has featured in exhibitions throughout Australia, as well as in the USA, Canada, China, Korea and Austria. Pwerle’s work will feature in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’s upcoming touring exhibition The Shape of Time: Art and Ancestors of Oceania, which will travel to two international venues in 2023 and featured in the important exhibitions Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and  Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia, which toured the USA and Canada from 2016-2019. Her work is held in a number of significant public and private collections including most national and regional public galleries within Australia, as well as The Collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl, Miami, USA; and the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan.

Born c.1939, Angelina Pwerle lives and works in Ngkawenyerre, Utopia, Northern Territory. As there are no records, such as birth certificates for people of Pwerle’s generation, we cannot confirm details regarding her birthdate or her surname/skin name.

Curator, writer and academic Anne Marie Brody has noted that paintings by Ngale differ in style to those by Pwerle, and posits that she could be utilising a pseudonym, as have many other artists (1). The paintings on canvas and paper that we exhibit at Niagara Galleries are all identified as work by Angelina Pwerle, rather than Ngale, though these two entities are one and the same.

(1) Anne Marie Brody, ‘Bush Plum Odysseys’, in Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia. From the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, DelMonico Books, 2016, pp. 76-90, p. 82


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