Jarinyanu David Downs: Not to be missed exhibition - Art Collector

Jarinyanu David Downs, Kurtal Stirring up a Storm of Black rain, 1988. Natural earth pigments and synhetic polymer paint on linen, 183 x 122cm. Courtesy: the artist and Greer Adams Fine Art.

Ahead of the upcoming exhibition of works by the late artist, Jarinyanu David Downs entitled: Kurtal as Self: rendering visible the unseen and intangible, Jessa Melicor talks to co-curators, Greer Adams and Karen Dayman to learn more about the artist's practice and the history behind this never-before-exhibited collection at Depot Gallery, Sydney.

The exhibited artworks in the upcoming show Kurtal as Self: rendering visible the unseen and intangible at Depot gallery is set to showcase works by Jarinyanu David Downs (c.1920 ‐ 1995) that have been in private hands for over 25 years. As one of the co-curators of the exhibition, would you be able to talk me through the exhibition and how it all started? What is the history behind the collection?

To explain where it all started, we need to look at the history behind the collection. All of the paintings in this solo exhibition of work by the late Jarinyanu David Downs come from the collection of the Adelaide based fine art dealer and collector, the late Duncan Kentish (1945-2012). Kentish’s professional collaboration and friendship with Jarinyanu began in the 1980s when Kentish visited Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia. What ensued was a relationship that became the focus of both their careers. Over a period of 8 years until the artist’s passing, Kentish worked tirelessly to develop Jarinyanu’s career. In a short timeframe Kentish oversaw Jarinyanu’s inclusion in over nine international exhibitions and mounted a number of important solo shows, most notably at Bonython-Meadmore Gallery, Sydney (1988), Chapman Gallery, Canberra (1991); and Ray Hughes, Sydney (1995).

This selling exhibition of works by Jarinyanu painted as early as 1988 until 1994 includes some of the most significant and iconic paintings by the artist that Duncan kept for his personal collection - the ones he couldn’t bear to part with. The show focuses on Jila Kurtal (living water) an important rainmaking site and home of its eponymous ancestor.

How did the late artist and collector Duncan Kentish come to meet?

Duncan Kentish was working in Alice Springs in the mid 1980s when he first saw images of Jarinyanu’s paintings. A co-worker who had recently returned from the Kimberley, showed him a number of works that he had commissioned while he was in Fitzroy Crossing. Kentish’s interest led him to drive into Fitzroy Crossing in 1986 specifically to meet Jarinyanu.

Artist Jarinyanu David Downs' work references his homeland and Country. Would you be able describe his relationship to Jila Kurtal and his connection to the Kimberley region in Western Australia?

Jarinyanu is one of a number of those who are connected to jila Kurtal, a rainmaking site in the Great Sandy Desert that lies to the south east of Balgo. Kurtal is amongst many ancestral men who travelled throughout the desert before coming to rest in locations across the desert. Jarinyanu developed a unique approach to depicting Kurtal that set his work apart from his peers.

How has his works played a part in the West Kimberley art movement?

Jarinyanu was one of the first Wangkajunga men to begin painting. He moved into the township of Fitzroy Crossing in the mid 1960s where he carved and painted artefacts for a local market. He began painting on a canvas boards with ochres. When asked how they started to paint, other prominent Fitzroy Crossing artists credit Jarinyanu David Downs as well as Jimmy Pike as the ones who led them into painting.

How many works will be exhibited and how long will the exhibition run for?

12 works will be exhibited for five days at Depot Gallery, Sydney from 4 October – 8 October 2016.

Jessa Melicor

Share this page: