Australia’s distinguished and influential Indigenous artist, Rover Thomas began painting late in life.

Having observed the success that fellow Western Australian Paddy Jaminji was enjoying in the early 1980s, he went to a field officer for the Department of Employment and introduced himself, saying: “Rover Thomas. I want to paint.”

This marked the beginning of a relatively brief but intensely creative period that would establish him as one of Australia’s finest painters, in his own lifetime.

A collection of his early work will now be exhibited at the Dell Gallery @ Queensland College of Art following on from a popular showing at The Art Gallery of New South Wales.

The exhibition – I want to paint – will be the first retrospective of this outstanding Western Australian Indigenous artist and features Thomas’s early work up to 1991. Among the paintings are important works from major public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, AGWA and NGV.

Running from June 25 to August 8, the exhibition will be opened officially by one of Australia’s most respected art curators, Djon Mundine OAM. Mr Mundine is currently the Senior Consultant Curator, Indigenous Art, at the Queensland Art Gallery.

Director of the Dell Gallery @ QCA, Simon Wright said: “We are very excited to have this exhibition. It’s a special show. The Holmes à Court Collection team have done a wonderful job assembling the works and managing the tour and it’s great to be able to present it to Queensland audiences.

“Rover Thomas’s legacy for art in this country is extensive and is at the forefront of international perspectives on Australian culture and indigenous painting. He is an inspiration to a whole new generation of artists coming through, from Turkey Creek, the Warmun community and beyond.”