Sonia Kurarra

Solo Exhibition

Kurarra is truly a sculptor in paint. She paints the sandy billabong country along the stretch of the Fitzroy River that runs directly behind the Noonkanbah community. There is a particular snake that lives in the billabongs which is called Nangurra, however, Kurarra mostly depicts the rich food sources that become abundant after the flooding of the river produces waterholes fecund with life.

Art Exhibition previously on at No Vacancy Gallery in Victoria, Australia.
From Tuesday 29 November 2016 to Sunday 04 December 2016

Martuwarra image

Published by No Vacancy on Sunday 27 November 2016.
Contact the publisher.

Sonia Kurrara is an artist whose work can be read not as a topographical map, but as a stratified landscape of Yungngora (Noonkanbah), the country for which she is a custodian. She paints the billabong country along the stretch of the Fitzroy river that runs behind Noonkanbah, depicting the food sources that become abundant after the river floods, using layers in such a way as to create vibrant and multifaceted works that appear almost as sculpture.

Kurrara was born in 1952 on river country at Yungngora. She began painting in the 1990s on paper with Mangkaja Arts, based at Fitzroy Crossing, but since 2008 has primarily worked on canvas, and had her first solo show as recently as 2009. Kurarra won the Western Australian Indigenous Artist Award at the Western Australian Indigenous Arts Award at the Art Gallery of WA in 2010. She went on to win the 2013 Headland Awards for best artist also, and her work is found in state gallery, corporate and private collections across the country. She has since taken the local kindergarden children to Sandy Billabong to teach them how to dance and paint. This joy is imbued in her works in such a way as to resonate with the viewers.

Kurrara is an intuitive colourist, and her motifs immediately recognizable—her practice is compulsively expressionistic, and her choice of colour palette is diverse. Her works are painted in either restrained and similarly toned shades, or resplendent in tonal colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as vibrant lime greens jammed right next to bright oranges and yellows. Her work features many oval and rounded shapes over-painted with a flurry of linear marks. These marks can signify a multitude of things: barramundi bones, the ribs of the shark, the lines on the leaves of the pandanus sitting at the edge of a flooded billabong, striations in the rocks at the rivers edge. Her compositions are often dense and concentrated with strong colour, although earlier works were simplified with more space between each motif. The heat, the water, food cooking, sustenance and a joyful sense of community are all evoked in the artist’s rich and atmospheric work.