Kunmanara (Ray) Ken
Kunmanara (Ray) Ken was an acclaimed artist and important senior Amata law man from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia. Drawing on his innate knowledge of land and law, Mr Ken combined traditional Anangu culture with a vibrant colour palette and striking linear compositions to achieve a highly sophisticated and contemporary aesthetic.
Mr Ken was renowned for his distinctive portrayals of the undulating sandhills of his country, Tali, and Kulata Tjuta, which celebrate the importance of spears in Anangu culture, and the deep connection to those, past and present, who have fought to protect country. Mr Ken believed that it was the responsibility of the Amata senior men to teach the younger generations how to carve Kulata, in order to keep the tradition strong and alive.
2017 was an extraordinary milestone in the artist’s stellar career. His work were featured in the major touring exhibition For Country: for Nation which launched at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra and Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Mr Ken also contributed to the major collaborative projects, Kulata Tjuta - a work for Kunmanara (Gordon) Ingkatji and the Kulata Tjuta Project, which were featured in the TARNANTHI Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Prior to his sad passing in 2018 Mr Ken was named as a finalist in the prestigious Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and in the 35th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin for the second consecutive year. His paintings are found in most public institutions in Australia and several significant private collections nationally and abroad.
© The Artist, Tjala Arts & Alcaston Gallery, 2021
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