Artist's Biography

Edwin Pareroultja was born in Hermannsburg on 24 March 1914 and was the youngest son of Kristian and Auguste Pareroultja.  His language group was that of the Western Aranda (Arrernte).  His family name means “the debris under a gum-tree”.

Edwin’s brothers Reuben (Born 1915) and Otto (1914-1973) were also well-known artists in their own right.

Edwin married Muriel, a daughter of Abel and Rosa and had three children.

Before he took up art Edwin was employed on odd jobs on the Hermannsburg Mission.  He was also an outstanding athlete and excelled in both running and jumping.  His forte was his amazing dash and his quick thinking. Edwin made his athletic appearance at a Red Cross Sports Meeting held on Foundation Day in 1944 and easily won the 75 and 130 yard sprints. He won these races barefooted beating all the crack Army competitors and ran the race from scratch position. At one time he was observed clearing a 5’3″ post and rail stockyard fence.

Edwin Pareroultja initiated a departure from the traditional style of watercolour painting as adopted by Albert Namatjira and, in doing this, was actively encouraged by the well-known and respected artist and teacher Rex Batterbee.

Rex Batterbee observed that that Edwin had his own colour pattern and sense of decoration and that he was a natural colourist keeping his colour planes apart.  With his homeland being the Arunta, Edwin had to depend on his sense of decoration because all their tribal drawings were symbolic. Edwin was known as having the greatest sense of decoration amongst his peers.

Edwin Pareroultja painted his first watercolour in October 1943, featuring Mount Sonder in the MacDonnell Ranges, which is one of the main landmarks seen from Hermannsburg.  Mount Sonder was a very popular subject matter with all the Namatjira School of artists.  Edwin’s style of watercolour painting attracted a great deal of interest as it was done in a strong contemporary style with a limited palette of three primary colours – red, yellow and blue. Edwin’s watercolour technique and colouring was a strong departure from the popular traditional style painted by Albert Namatjira.

Edwin’s first exhibition of 53 watercolours was held in Melbourne at the Athenaeum Gallery in 1946 and the exhibition was a sell out in three days. The National Gallery of Victoria purchased works of Edwins’ from this exhibition, the first pieces of contemporary Aboriginal art to be purchased by the NGV. Edwin’s second exhibition was held at Anthony Hordern’s Gallery in Sydney and all 48 paintings were sold. Edwin exhibitd his works widely in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.

Edwin Pareroultja died in Alice Springs on 11 July 1986.  His paintings are represented in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, MAGNT, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, South Australian Museum, University of Melbourne Art Collection, University of Sydney Collection, Vancouver Arts Centre Gallery in Albany, Western Australia.