Kulata Tjuta
Kulata Tjuta

Kunmanara Ray Ken

1940 - 2014 Kulata Tjuta 2013
  • acrylic on linen
198 cm x 152.2 cm

Kunmanara (Ray) Ken (c.1940-2018) was an acclaimed artist and important senior Amata law man from the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia. Drawing on his innate knowledge of Country and Law, Mr Ken combined traditional Aṉangu culture with a vibrant colour palette and striking linear compositions to achieve a highly sophisticated and contemporary aesthetic.

Mr Ken was renowned for his distinctive portrayals of the undulating sandhills of his Country, Tali, and Kulata Tjuta, which celebrate the importance of spears in Aṉangu culture and the deep connection to those, past and present, who have fought to protect Country. Mr Ken believed that it was the responsibility of the Amata senior men to teach the younger generations how to carve Kulata, to keep the tradition strong and alive.

Highly celebrated for his practice, Mr Ken was featured as a finalist in the prestigious Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards five times over his career, in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018. In 2013, he was also selected as a finalist in the invitation-only Western Australia Indigenous Art Award - the richest Indigenous Art Award in the country, and in 2017 and 2018 he was featured as a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. 

Following the artist's sad passing on 24 October 2018, Mr Ken has had work exhibited in several important exhibitions including a solo exhibition of specially released paintings at Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne in conjunction with the Estate of the Artist and Tjala Arts, South Australia in 2018.


His paintings are found in most public institutions in Australia and several significant private collections nationally and abroad. © The Estate of the Artist, Tjala Arts & Alcaston Gallery, 2023

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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