Paddy Bedford (1922-2007), like Eastern Anmatjerre artist Emily Kngwarryee, produced paintings for no more than a decade at the end of his life. However unlike Kngwarreye, who produced in excess of 4000 paintings before her death in 1996, Bedford painted only sparingly for most of his late-blooming, artistic career. At their best, his minimal abstracted ochre works have an equal power and strength to those of Rover Thomas, the founder of the East Kimberley style. However Bedford was physically capable of producing major paintings for only a limited period of his life. (Source: http://www.aboriginalartresource.com/aboriginal-artists/paddy-nyunkuny-bedford/)
Paddy Bedford was known by his nickname Goowoomji and also by his Gija name Nyunkuny. As a senior law man Paddy Bedford was involved in painting as a part of ceremony throughout his life. However, he only began painting on canvas for exhibition after the establishment of Jirrawun Aboriginal Art in 1997. In a remarkable career as a painter, that spanned less than ten years, Bedford achieved great critical acclaim in Australia and internationally.
Bedford’s paintings reveal a deep love of his country: the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Many of his works depict features of this distinctive landscape such as the rivers, stock-yards and roads that were integral to Paddy’s traditional life and that as a well regarded stockman. Much of the subject matter of his paintings are inspired by important events in his life, such as the Bedford Downs Massacre as well as his family dreamings of emu, turkey and cockatoo. Towards the end of his career Paddy declared that he had painted all of his father’s country and his mother’s country and that he was just painting.
A major retrospective of Bedford’s work was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2006.
I love the wonderfully abstract nature of Paddy’s paintings. They have the ability to look traditional and modern at the same time. They look deceptively simple, yet speak volumes to me. By keeping his colour palette simple and restricting it to black, white and the rich reds, ochres, browns and yellows of the Australian outback, Paddy manages to evoke a sense of history, to paint a frozen snapshot of his beloved land.
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