Lily Kelly Napangardi is a Warlpiri artist Born in Haasts Bluff around 1948, Lily Kelly started painting in 1986 for Papunya Tula Artists. Lilly Kelly won the prestigious Telstra Art Award in 1986 and was selected in 2002 as well as 2003. Lilly Kelly is a very fine artist who, if handled professionally, is capable of greatness. With this no doubt in mind, Australian Art Collector Magazine selected her as one of Australia’s 50 most collectable artists for 2006. Yet in equal measure she produces perfunctory works motivated more by income than the pleasure of creative engagement.
A number of her finest paintings have been acquired by major international collectors including Thomas Vroom and Richard Kelton as well as being added to several Australian State art galleries. The magnificent paintings held by the Art Gallery of NSW, rated by Murphy as the artist’s finest, were exhibited in the exhibition Gifted: Contemporary Aboriginal Art: The Molly Gowing Acquisition Fund in 2006/2007. Lilly Kelly has been described by those who know her art practice intimately, as an action painter. They suggest that her works are essentially haptic and unplanned and that she engages in painting without any formal schema in mind. If this is the case, then it is likely that it is this informality that evokes such a powerful response from the viewer.
Early examples of Lilly Kelly’s sandhill paintings were rendered using a dotting technique, which diminished the size of the dots with each row. In later works she diminished the dots within each evolving line. Earlier works therefore have a more meditative settled quality and stronger formal compositional structure, whereas the ebb and flow of the dotting in her later works is evocative, rhythmic and ultimately engaging.