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Khatja Possum

"Women's Body Paint" by Khatja Possum


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Size: 97 x 97 cm

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

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Khatija Possum is the daughter of Michelle Possum Nungurrayi and Heath Ramzan Tjangala. She is the third generation of painters in her family; her grandfather was the famous Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, renowned for being one of the founding artists of the contemporary indigenous art movement. Khatija's mother Michelle was taught to paint by Clifford and to this day carries on the traditional stories, style, and much of the iconography of Clifford Possum, albeit with stronger color and the addition of women's ceremonial stories and other women's dreamings.

Khatija learned to paint by observing and assisting her mother. It is a process that highlights the importance of art in keeping culture alive as stories are passed from one generation to the next. As Khatija starts her own family, the importance of keeping her cultural heritage strong is of great consequence.

Meaning behind the artwork

The Women’s Dreaming paintings by Khatija depicts Women’s ceremonial sites surrounding Tjukurla in the western desert of Central Australia – traditional homelands to the artist’s great grandmother. Ceremonial sites carry a deep spiritual meaning and it is where the women narrate their sacred Aboriginal dreamtime stories, through song lines, dance cycles and body paint. This painting has many secret and sacred landmarks and iconography but also includes the important fire, bush tucker and waterholes that are imperative to the women as the ceremonies can last for over a week. Though primarily a landscape painting Khatija has surpassed the basic stories and landmarks and has expanded this art of body painting and ceremonial themes into a classic contemporary composition, using modern acrylic paints.