There has been a very strong shift in the marketplace back to works with provenance from the founding community – Papunya Tula Artists - and leading the pack is Warlimpirrnga. I simply cannot see any other artist with as much potential as Warlimpirrnga right now. Importantly, his work has struck a chord with the international contemporary art world – led by outstanding results at both Sotheby’s in London and at his exhibition in New York. And it’s only the beginning...
Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Emily has been a stalwart and a driving force in the marketplace both in Australia and abroad. But, incredibly, you can still pick up a major Emily for a reasonable price at exhibition or auction - take for example the important work included in my current exhibition - to think that a work of this scale and quality can be acquired at such a reasonable price staggers me. This is why serious collectors are looking to major works by Emily with the view of significant opportunity.
1971-72 Papunya boards
Bending the rules again here but the entire category of ‘founding masters’ must be given a prominent spot in my Top 10. We’re seeing continued strength and support in the marketplace for these early boards – and quite rightly so. This body of work, including founding artists like, Johnny Warangula, Shorty Lungkata, Mick Namarari and Long Jack Phillipus, is widely considered the most important in all Australian art history. I can report we sold both early boards in my current exhibition – immediately – and I think this trend in demand will only strengthen due to two main driving factors – rarity and significance.
Some may argue that Rover Thomas should be number one, because he has been the major driving force in the Australian Indigenous secondary market since the beginning. But until very recently, prices for his works have remained suppressed. It will be interesting to watch this space over the next 12 to 18 months where we could easily find Rover back at number one. Ultimately an excellent Rover with impeccable provenance is always going to be a great thing.
With a bang, Ronnie re-enters the race! Ronnie just missed out in my last Top 10 but on the back of an outstanding result at D+H for Ronnie’s Wilkinkarra, 1993 which sold for $151, 280 AUD, demand is strengthening incredibly. I can report numerous private sales well in excess of $100,000 over the last 6 months. And that interest and trend will continue for the best works. What a difference a year can make - watch this space!
Daniel’s market is now well and truly established. He produces limited works, is very well managed and there’s great demand in his market. Supply simply does not meet demand. Coupled with these facts, and much like Warlimpirrnga, I really see Daniel’s work commanding a presence on the international stage in the near term. There is such great potential in his work - he has a purely individual style and technique which will reach far beyond Australian shores.
Mawurndjul could have easily been even further up my list. I personally love bark paintings. They’re such a natural, organic medium and so purely identifiable as being Australian. Mawurndjul is the leading artist in this medium. There have been several major paintings that have shown up at auction that have achieved in excess of $100,000 and I see more potential in the future. Mawurndjul is highly regarded and represented in both national and international institutions.
On the back of the most recent Biennale of Sydney and the media surrounding this significant event, George Tjungurrayi will likely make one of the most extraordinary turn-arounds in any artist’s career. The eye-watering and well curated display at the Biennale has generated immense interest in both Australia and abroad – and I can report there is once again a back-log in demand at the community. Only works with impeccable community Papunya Tula provenance will suffice. This artist is not only on the radar, but once again making huge waves in the marketplace.
Paddy is an artist whose work has really held up very strongly, in all times and adversity in the marketplace. Of all the Australian Indigenous artists, he’s the only one with a complete catalogue raisonné. International scope with Paddy is going to be potentially strong particularly in the contemporary sphere. Taken out of the context of Indigenous and/or non-Indigenous art - it’s contemporary art that can stand up against anything.
Tommy’s market can still be classed as an emerging market, but believe me, the strength in demand for great works is increasing by the day. Tommy had an ability with colour unlike any other – the ability to fuse and sear the retina. Backed by several outstanding results both at auction in London and by private sale in recent times, this small body of work is one to watch. If you want to get in to a market at its infancy stages – this should be it. The work is powerful and individual – and most of all - there is strong momentum here.
And that’s my Top 10 Most Collectable Indigenous artists on the Australian market right now.
If you were thinking of investing in a work by any of these artists – make sure to remember these 3 things:
- Provenance and quality is key
- Get trusted advice
- Only buy what you love
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