Gooniyandi/Gija languages. Born c.1918. Died 2OO9.
Jananggoo Butcher Cherel’s career was defined by restless innovation. Cherel was born around 192O at Jalnganjoowa, near the homestead at Fossil Downs Station. His mother was Gija, his father Gooninyandi. Like many Indigenous people, Cherel was a polyglot, speaking his parents’ tongues, as well as Walmajarri and Bunuba. Working for most of his life as a cowboy, Cherel began painting regularly in the early 199Os, following the establishment of the Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency in Fitzroy Crossing. As one of the most senior elders of the Gooniyandi, he was instrumental in the revival of ceremony at the Muludja community where he spent his final years. Cherel was passionate about traditional culture and law, but he was also a committed and reflexive artist, challenging himself to find new ways to express his heritage and experiences in pictorial form. A master of turning complex designs into coherent visual statements, Cherel’s attention to detail can be seen through delicately detailed recurring elements, such as bush plums (girndi), which work in concert to create exquisite tapestries of motion. In Cherel’s hand, these graphically idiosyncratic experiments in color and form become the sublime device for combining deep cultural knowledge with astute observation of the natural world. In 2OO5, he was declared a Living Treasure by the Western Australian State Government, and in he 2OO6 he was selected as a finalist in the prestigious Clemenger Contemporary Art Award at the National Gallery of Victoria. His works are held in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, along with numerous important collections in Australia and the U.S.