Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek
Late works

Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek is quite simply a living national treasure. Respected in his own world he has also been honoured in ours with an Order of Australia. At his camp in Arnhemland there are anthropologists who have set up their own quarters nearby in order to learn from him about the enigmatic and mysterious rock art that abounds throughout the area. Probably no living human retains the knowledge of the secrets contained in this art than Lofty. They take him from site to site, often by helicopter, when he has the energy and is willing to take time off from his painting and other family duties. He helps to enlighten them ? and through them white culture in general ? about the rich culture of the Aboriginal past. Lofty?s own history has put him in a unique position to impart this knowledge. He was the headman of the Ubarr ceremony that was last performed in the early 1970?s. It is no longer practiced and has been superseded, as there are not enough elders still alive with the knowledge necessary. When I use the word ceremony, perhaps I should clarify it from my limited understanding. We are not talking about a couple of nights of initiation rites here but rather, what we westerners would view as more of a religious pop festival involving hundreds of people from various clans and language groups and lasting for weeks.

However, strong as the man?s knowledge of the sacred and secret nature of Aboriginal rock painting and stories is, the current exhibition is not about the past but the present and not only about his position as an elder but the fruits an artist working today, in the twighlight of his career. The fine ?rarrk? or crosshatching of earlier years has given way to a more spontaneous, less structured and more fluid style. Like Matisse in his late cut outs, Lofty is less concerned now with detail or formal problems, something he mastered long ago, and the works are about what is clear and true in his heart. Now in his eighties, he has no time left for anything less ambitious, no time for superfluous information and the results are spectacular works that go directly to the heart with those who have taken the time to understand his art. Within his work is a lifetime of experience as an artist and a master storyteller. ? he began his career in the 1930?s painting on cave walls.

In our first exhibition at Annandale in 20 (BLANK ? look it up) Lofty exhibited works on paper. It was his first visit to Sydney and the sight of his paintings on the walls of the gallery moved him to tears. This is an artist of great humility who considers it a privilege to share the vision in his work and the evocations of his country in the paintings with us. The privilege is all ours. Fully eleven works went into museum collections from that exhibition. Apart from a small exhibition of barks at Annandale to celebrate his involvement in the ?Crossing Country? exhibition at the Art gallery NSW in 2004, this is the first time a major exhibition of Lofty?s barks have been seen since (BLANk _ ASK ANDREW). It is a great honour and privilege for Annandale galleries to once again be the venue for another major show of the work of Lofty, and to allow the Australian public to experience this unique man and his painting.

Finally, I would like to thank Lofty himself but also Andrew Blake and his wife Diane. Both are exhibiting artists in their own right and Andrew recently had an exhibition of his marvellous sculpture at Annandale Galleries. He is also arts advisor at Marawuddi gallery in Kakadu National park and his extraordinary rapport with Lofty has made this exhibition a reality. - Bill Gregory Sydney June 2006


Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek
Late works
Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek is quite simply a living national treasure. Respected in his own world he has also been honoured in ours with an Order of Australia
19 July - 19 Aug 2006

Exhibition features:

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Please note, works in previous exhibitions may no longer be available, please visit our stockroom for available works