Lot 225

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Featured in the 5th-15th June 1957 Exhibition at Anthony Hordern's Aranda Room of 'the largest collection or original Watercolour Paintings by the Australian Aborigines' assembled by Mr G. van Grecken

  • From the Estate of Gene van Grecken
  • Artist Name:
  • Otto Pareroultja
  • Exhibited:
  • Australian
  • Literature:
  • Painting
  • Medium:
  • 1394
  • Circa:
  • Fine Art
  • Notes:
  • Otto Pareroultja was one of the most important artists to emerge from the Lutheran Hermannsburg Mission in Central Australia. Unlike his contemporary the realist painter Albert Namatjira, his style was more impressionistic to a western eye which is probably why he was not so commercially successful in the conservative Australia of the 1950s. Namatjira was the clever Aboriginal who broadened his appeal by mimicking traditional landscape artists like Hans Heysen. But, when Pareroultja painted the same subject matter his Aboriginality shone through making his works less palatable to western tastes. Which Australian child of the 1960s did not have a token print of a Namatjira landscape on their classroom wall alongside the ubiquitous portrait of the Queen? Not so a Pareroultja. The connection to the land is an oft-expressed sentiment of Australia’s native population and the inspired brushstrokes of Pareroultja which were broad and imprecise subconsciously captured a metaphysical element that blurred the line between the spititual and the physical being of the landscape. All art is derivative and, while Pareroultja’s paintings certainly draw on a strong western landscape tradition he was still able to remain true to himself in spirit producing unique tangential representations of the Australian landscape that deservedly place him as a pioneer of Australian Aboriginal Art. The works in our sale were assembled in 1949 by a prescient collector Gene van Grecken. In his own words: “I was discharged from the Australian Military Forces in January 1947, and to expand my Aboriginal Art Effects Collection, embarked on an around Australia motor trip in a buying spree in February 1948. I purchased all the watercolour paintings listed in the catalogue in 1949 direct from the artists including Albert Namatjira who told me that the much older Otto Pareroultja was his teacher. (This may have been a playful joke as Namatjira was 10 years older) I bought one Namatjira and 14 Otto’s and 4 of Otto’s son Edwin. Of all the 12 Aborigine artists, Otto Pareroultja’s paintings impressed me the most. I told him his bold wide strong brush technique reminded me of Vincent van Gogh’s brushwork, of course he did not know who I was talking about, so I kept four of Otto’s paintings and one of Richard Moketaringa who appeared to be copying Otto. In the early 1950s Sam Hordern advised ne he was redecorating a whole floor of his department store ANTHONY HORDERN’S for the precise use of exhibiting Aborigine Art and invited me to use the gallery, he named THE ARANDA ROOM to sell my collection of 105 paintings. Sadly, Sir Samuel Hordern died in June 1956 and when the Aranda Room was finally completed in June 1957 the pre-arranged exhibition went ahead. All the paintings except the few I kept were sold within 5 days of the grand opening.”

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June 28, 2020 12:00 PM AEST
Paddington, Sydney, Australia

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Bid Increments
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A$0 A$249 A$5
A$250 A$999 A$10
A$1,000 A$4,999 A$25
A$5,000 A$9,999 A$50
A$10,000 + A$100