Bob & Mary — essay

BOB & MARY PRESENTS THE WORK OF TWO OF TJARLIRLI ART’S MOST DEDICATED AND INSPIRING ARTISTS: MOTHER AND SON DUO MARY AND BOB GIBSON.
THEIR PAINTINGS DO NOT IMMEDIATELY EVIDENCE THIS CLOSE FAMILIAL CONNECTION, SHOWCASING SUCH DIFFERENT STYLES. YET THESE TWO DISTINCT STYLES MIRROR BOTH THE PRESONALITIES AND APPROACES TO PAINTING OF EACH ARTIST.

Mary was born c.195O in the bush and grew up around the extremely significant site of Kulkurta, west of where Tjukurla community now stands. She lived largely without contact with the colonial world until her late teenage years, when she and her family moved to the Papunya government settlement. In the 197Os, Mary would witness the birth of the early Papunya art movement — her brother, Anatjari Tjakamarra, was a founding member of the group — allowing Mary to absorb many lessons from this defining moment in Australian First Nations art history.
After having three children, including Bob, Mary moved from Papunya back to Kulkurta, and Bob would spend his latter childhood years absorbing knowledge from the same country as his mother, uncles, and ancestors before him.

Mary and Bob both began painting with Tjarlirli Art shortly after its inception in 2OO6. Bob received permission to paint his father’s country at Patjantja, a remote site in the Pintupi lands on the edge of the Gibson Desert. Bob paints with quick vibrant energy, using swift brushstrokes and making split-second decisions on colour and composition. While the Tjukurrpa Bob paints is ancient, his style is distinctly contemporary. His boundless energy, cheeky humour and unique perspective are all conveyed through his canvases; he is forever a man doing a million things at once.

Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2022
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
177 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT22-76
$6,OOO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
177 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT21-1237KA
$6,OOO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT21-1125KA
$5,OOO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2022
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
177 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT22-197KA
$6,OOO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 177 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT21-1O19KA
$6,OOO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT21-821
$5,OOO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
121 X 91 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT21-6O5KA
$2,8OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
KULKURTA – MARY
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
121 X 91 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT21-498KA
$2,8OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2022
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 22-116
$8,5OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 177 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 21-1O18KA
$1O,2OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
177 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 21-127KA
$1O,2OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2022
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 22-36
$8,5OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
121 X 91 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 21-1241
$4,5OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2022
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 22-116
$8,5OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
147 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 21-1243
$8,5OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2022
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
121 X 91 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 22-34
$4,5OO
Bob GibsonMary Gibson
PATJANTJA
2021
SYNTHETIC POLYMER PAINT ON CANVAS
177 X 147 CM
PROVENANCE: TJARLIRLI ART, WA CAT 21-1236KA
$1O,2OO

I nearly met Bob Gibson on my first trip to Tjukurla, but missed him by only minutes. It was his style to arrive at the art centre, leave the car engine running, the driver's door wide open, and swing into the art centre to create a painting. A short time later Bob would drop the paint brush jump back into the car and roar off into the bush to hunt.”

— VIVIEN ANDERSON

Mary’s pieces provide a contrast to the frenetic pace of Bob’s, and instead signal a paring-back of composition to more sparsely filled depictions of her country. Mary’s movements while painting are intuitive and gentle, as she traces key landscape features of the country she knows so deeply. When on country she emanates the same energy; what seems at first to be random meandering is in fact deep attunement to the signals of the land.

The conversation between Bob and Mary’s paintings is evidence of the uniqueness and diversity of Ngaanyatjarra art practice. Both Mary and Bob have travelled widely across the Western Desert and spent time in almost all communities in this area. The works in this exhibition are a testament to the ever-continuing evolution of Ngaanyatjarra art as a conversation between ancient knowledge, individual practice and contemporary desert life.

RILEY MCPHERSON

Mary Gibson hunting near Kaltukatjara
Mary-Gibson-hunting-near-Kaltukatjara-2022
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