Keith Stevens Australian, Pitjantjatjara, b. c.1940
Keith Stevens is a senior Pitjantjatjara man born in the far north of South Australia at Granite Downs where his parents were working in the 1940's. Following in his parent’s footsteps, he was mustering at an early age and had no schooling until moving to Pukatja (Ernabella) as a young boy where he attended the mission school. Keith's family would travel for weekends to their traditional homelands of Piltati and Iwarrawarra. Keith's father eventually sat down with his family close to Piltati creek at what is now Nyapari Community. Keith is a respected senior man in traditional law and a strong community leader.
"Today Keith is a man of both worlds. A highly respected traditional law man and a skilled painter of the tjukurpa in the modern medium of acrylics. His careful application of thick rich colour in intricate patterning creates a three dimensional moulded topography of the Piltati plateau and gully. Colour floods the landforms with the static tension of the Tjukurpa creation energy metamorphosed into rocky and sandy creek bed. Finely drawn ancient motifs float on the painted ground. Traces of ancestral camps, footprints, spears and digging sticks. Energetic marks of the Tjukurpa recoding the story of creation." Diana James
Keith's highly distinctive red textured fields of colour evoke an ancient landscape, the country of the Tjukurpa. His intimate knowledge of his country is referenced in his works with important landmarks depicted across his canvases. These are dynamic works that have a magical quality which sing out and touch the viewer.
Keith comes from an artistic family, his mother Eileen Yaritja Stevens (dec) and his uncles Tiger Palpatja and Ginger Wikilyiri are well-known for their depictions of Piltati the ancestral story for Nyapari. Keith also paints the Tjukurpa of his traditional land Piltati.
'Nyapari ngura ka Piltati ngura. Minyma kutjara nyinanyi waruangka. Kangkuru ini Wanyinta ka malanypa ini Alartjatjarra. Tjana Maliluku untalpa. Wati kutjara nyangatja, tjukupa minymaku ngura minyma kutjara, minyma tjukurpa unngu. Tjana mukaringkula kilinangkupai maiku kukaka mukuringkula. Palumpa ngura ngara palulanguru tjana ankupai maiku kukaka mantjintjikitatja. Tjana wana katipai munu wira tjawantjakitjaku munu tjana katipai waru tjangi. Painta nyangatja Piltatiku tjukurpa. This is country for Nyapari and Piltati. The two women from Piltati are sitting by their fire. The elder sister is Wanyinta and the younger one is Alartjatjarra, These are Malilu's daughters. This is Piltati. There are two men here and two women. The story is underground. If people want meat or bush tucker they go to this place and clean around and talk to the area. From here those two women would go out and collect their food. They would carry a digging stick and collecting bowl and also a fire stick. This is the Piltati story’
Keith is receiving high acclaim for his works and is represented in major private and public collections including the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.