By Richard Brewster, on 28-Mar-2023

Led by a strong return from iconic indigenous artist Lin Onus (1948-1996) with his Deep Water, Matong 1995 (lot21) and six artist auction records, Australian Aboriginal art is alive and well if the latest Deutscher and Hackett Melbourne sale on March 22 is anything to go by.
The painting sold for $343,636 including buyer’s premium (on a $180,000-$250,000 catalogue estimate) in an auction that realised $3,262,950 for 73 lots – 168 per cent by value where 91 per cent of the works changed hands.


Top price in the sale was for Deep Water, Matong 1995 by iconic indigenous artist Lin Onus (1948-1996) which sold for $343,636 including buyer’s premium, on a $180,000-$250,000 catalogue estimate.

Emile Kame Kngwarreye (c1910-1996) filled second spot in the top 10 with Untitled 1995 (Lot 6 ) but also featured three more times among the best results with Alalgura Landscape II (Lot 31 ) at $184,091, Awelye (Lot 30 ) at $109,227 and (Lot 7 ) Untitled (Yam Dreaming I) and Untitled (Yam Dreaming II).
Lot 5, a painting entitled Ninjilki 2008 by another notable woman, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (c1924-2015) was the third highest result at $251,590 and one of the auction records.  
Another was Nongirrna Marawili’s work Baratjala 2018 (Lot 1 ) bringing $153,409 on a $30,000-$40,000 catalogue estimate. She also featured again in the top 10 results with lot 4, also entitled Baratjala, that sold for $92,045.
Rover Thomas (1926-1998) is another iconic indigenous artist and his work Yelda, Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route (Lot 23 ) returned a top estimate price of $120,000 ($147,273 with BP) – while John Mawurndjul’s Ngalyod, Rainbow Serpent (lot 20 and featured on the catalogue’s front cover) was a respectable $113,523.
Other artists to achieve auction records were Malaluba Gurmana for Larrakitj 2015 that changed hands for $40,500, Rammey Ramsey with Warlawoon Country 2007 ($33,136), Tjunkiya Napaltjarri for Women at the Rockhole Site of Umari 2004 and Gunybi Ganambarr with Milngurr/Milnjurr 2011 – each of which sold for $24,545.


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About The Author

Richard Brewster has been writing about the antiques and art auction industry for almost 25 years, first in a regular weekly column for Fairfax's The Age newspaper and also in more recent times for his own website Australian Auction Review. With over 50 years experience as a journalist and public relations consultant, in 1990 Richard established his own business Brewster & Associates in Melbourne, handling a wide range of clients in the building, financial, antiques and art auction industries.