Cartier Curates First Major International Exhibition of Aboriginal Artist Sally Gabori

The first major solo survey exhibition of Gabori outside of Australia will showcase thirty monumental paintings in close collaboration with the artist’s family and the Kaiadilt community.

Article by Phoebe Tully

Sally GaboriDibirdibi Country, 2008 Synthetic polymer paint on linen, 198 × 304 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Purchased, NGV Supporters of Indigenous Art, 2010. Photo © National Gallery of Victoria. Photography courtesy The Estate of Sally Gabori / Adagp, Paris, 2022.

T Australia wishes to advise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that this article contains images and names of deceased Aboriginal people.

Considered one of the greatest contemporary Australian artists of the past two decades, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori began painting in 2005, around the age of eighty, and developed, in just a few short years and prior to her death in 2015, a unique, vibrantly colourful body of work. Her paintings are as much topographical references of her native island as they are stories with a deep significance for her, her family and her Kaiadilt people.

From 3 July to 6 November 2022, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is presenting the first major solo survey exhibition of Gabori outside of Australia. Bringing together some thirty monumental paintings, the exhibition is organised in close collaboration with the artist’s family and the Kaiadilt community, alongside specialists in Kaiadilt art and culture, who were invited to Paris for the opening to pay tribute to this artist, whose work continues to fascinate for its spontaneous, luminous, and profoundly original character.

Sally Gabori Cartier exhibition
Photography courtesy the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

The exhibition at the Fondation Cartier presents some thirty canvases by Gabori, including spectacular monumental canvases that punctuated her career, as well as three collaborative paintings done with other Kaiadilt artists, including her daughters. Thanks to some exceptional loans from major Australian galleries such as Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales and HOTA, Home of the Arts, as well as Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, the Fondation Opale, and generous loans by private lenders, the exhibition allows the public to discover an immense colourist whose corpus, profoundly anchored in the history of her people, bears witness to a remarkable pictorial modernity.

Sally Gabori
Sally Gabori, Art & Craft Centre, Mornington Island, 2008–12. Photography by Inge Cooper.

To coincide with the ambitious exhibition of paintings, the Fondation Cartier, in close collaboration with Gabori’s family and the Kaiadilt community, has created a website dedicated to the life and work of the artist. The unique research project focuses on the extraordinary career of this iconic Kaiadilt artist and bears witness to the wealth of her work and the significant cultural legacy she has left to her community. Through a large number of documents and exclusive accounts, the website comprises the most exhaustive collection of archives ever compiled on Gabori and her history.

Following in the continuity of online projects developed by the Fondation Cartier around major figures – such as bioacoustician Bernie Krause, photographer Claudia Andujar, and filmmaker Artavazd Pelechian – the site dedicated to Gabori will be regularly added to with new contributions.