Lena Nyadbi: A Major Artist of Contemporary Aboriginal Art
The artist Lena Nyadbi, a member of the Gija people, was born in around 1936 in Walmanjikulum in East Kimberley, Western Australia. She began her artistic career in 1998 and is today represented by the Warmun Art Centre, a cultural institution which brings together artists from the aboriginal community of Warmun (Turkey Creek). She learnt to paint from that pioneering generation of aboriginal artists to which she belongs, including Paddy Jaminji, Queenie McKenzie and Rover Thomas. She still paints with natural ochres and charcoal originating from Gija territory.
Her daring interpretation of traditional motifs, which has become the distinctive characteristic of her work, was immediately noted for its visual mastery and creativity. In Lena Nyadbi’s art, the key motifs relating to her territory are a platform for her experiments with color and space. Her work is dominated by symbolic references to the ancestral barramundi Dayiwul (a species of perch with U-shaped scales), jimbirla (spearheads) and gemerre (scarifications), depicted individually or in groups.
Lena Nyadbi is one of the major representatives of contemporary aboriginal art in East Kimberley. The work on the roof of the media library is the second designed by Lena Nyadbi for the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, after the work entitled Jimbirla & Gemerre (spearhead and scarification), produced on the façade of the building on Rue de l’Université.