Tutuma Tjapangati (Pintupi/Pitjantjatjara c. 1909–1987)

[Tutuma's] spontaneous compositions are a reflection of the direct way in which iconographic forms are applied onto the body or onto the earth for large ground paintings. Indeed, more than most of the other early Papunya paintings, Tutuma's work retains a palpable sense of immediacy and ritual purpose. (Philip Batty, 2011)

Tutuma was born at Wirrilinya, south-west of Lake Hopkins, where he lived until walking some 500 kilometres to Haasts Bluff in 1943, being drawn eastwards by stories of Europeans distributing food and water. He found Haasts Bluff noisy and unsettling at first but gradually adapted to settlement where he became a competent cameleer, using his team of camels to make extended visits to his homelands.

Tutuma moved to Papunya in 1960, where he was the most senior of the southern Pintupi artists. A pensioner, known as 'Old Tutuma', he was always eager to express his Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) in acrylic on composition board. The bold iconographic elements of his early works echo the way such designs are painted straight onto the body or the ground for men's ceremonies. In common with many other Pintupi people, Tutuma moved to Walungurru after its establishment in 1981. Here he continued to paint until his eyesight deteriorated in the mid 1980s.

EXHI015776
Tutuma Tjapangati 1977
Pintupi/Pitjantjatjara c.1909-87
Photo © Kevin Diflo

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