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CDU gallery acquires award-winning painting

Four Dreamings
CDU Art Gallery curator Kellie Joswig and Collection and Exhibitions Officer Eileen Lim with the new acquired Four Dreamings painting by Central Desert artist Carbiene McDonald Tjangala

The winning work of a landscape art prize has been acquired for the Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Collection.

Four Dreamings was painted this year by Central Desert artist Carbiene McDonald Tjangala and is part of the recent “Salon des Refusés” exhibition at the CDU Art Gallery, which featured art works that were entered but not selected for NATSIAA.  

In July, the artist won the $100,000 Hadley’s Art Prize, Australia’s richest art prize for landscape 2D media.

Astonishingly Mr McDonald Tjangala picked up a paint brush for the first time less than a year ago.

“To say this artist is emerging is an understatement. To win such a prestigious prize in the first 12 months of an artist’s career is an amazing achievement. Mr McDonald Tjangala has well and truly emerged as a leading landscape painter in the blink of the eye,” CDU Art Gallery curator Kellie Joswig said.

“It’s a real win for our collection to be able to acquire a work from an artist of this calibre. It’s a great fit for our collection given Mr McDonald Tjangala’s Central Desert heritage,” she said.

CDU’s art collecting priorities focus on acquiring works by Northern Territory artists or those who are inspired by the Northern Territory or South-East Asia in their work. The collection has amassed more than 3300 works since it began in 1989 with the formation of the then-Northern Territory University.

“This artwork is aesthetically very strong and presents striking soft colours with great technical skill.  It is also not typical of a Central Desert painting as there is no dotting used. This sets it apart from the traditional Central Desert style,” Ms Joswig said.

The acrylic on linen painting depicts four dreamings inherited by the artist from his father. These dreamings are associated with a series of waterholes running between Docker River and Mt Allen in Central Australia.

Mr McDonald Tjangala’s artwork, and the other 52 works forming this year’s “Salon des Refusés” exhibition, have been part of one of the CDU Art Gallery’s most successful events.

Ms Joswig said the concept keeps getting stronger with 1845 visitors attending the exhibition that ended late last month, up by almost 200 from the 1649 visitors to the 2018 Salon exhibition. 

“The first Salon des Refusés exhibition was in Paris in 1863, showing works that had been rejected by the official Paris Salon. Following that theme in 2019, we had such a collection of high-quality works, that didn’t make the NATSIAA exhibition, that we had a record number of visitors.

“Art is subjective and it comes down to personal taste. It’s great there is an alternative space to be exhibited if artists don’t make the NATSIAA exhibition. There are so many artists producing great work that people will make the effort to see,” Ms Joswig said.

The CDU Art Gallery’s next exhibition will be “Taksu: the art of Bali” featuring Balinese art gifted to the university art collection by two prominent Australian collectors.