Tjukurrtjanu TjukurrtjanuTjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art

NGV NGVNGV: 150 years Museum VictoriaMuseum Victoria Papanya Tula ArtistsPapanya Tula Artists

  • An NGV Touring Exhibition
  • 30 September 2011 – 12 February 2012
  • The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia,
  • Federation Square, Melbourne
  •  
  • 9 October 2012 – 20 January 2013
  • Musée du quai Branly, Paris

Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art examines a watershed moment in the history of art when a painting practice emerged at Papunya in Central Australia. Tjukurrtjanu gives prominence to 200 of the first paintings produced at Papunya between 1971 and 1972 and also establishes the vital connection between the works of art and their sources in ephemeral designs made for use in ceremony.

A collaboration between the NGV and Museum Victoria.
In partnership with Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd.

This website contains the names, images and works of Indigenous people who have passed away, which may cause distress to some Indigenous people.

Indigenous people from Central Australia and the Western Desert are advised that this exhibition contains culturally sensitive works that may be considered harmful or inappropriate for viewing by women or uninitiated members of their communities. Care has been taken to respect cultural protocols and, following a comprehensive consultation process, these works will be exhibited separately for the duration of the exhibition and will not be illustrated in the exhibition catalogue or displayed on this website.

Please note that some records contain terms and annotations that reflect the period in which the item was recorded, and may be considered inappropriate today in some circumstances.


Tjukurrtjanu gives prominence to 200 of the first paintings produced at Papunya between 1971 and 1972 and also establishes the vital connection between the works of art and their sources in ephemeral designs made for use in ceremony.

The powerful iconographic language and philosophy of these paintings is tjukurrtjanu (from the Dreaming): it communicates the artists’ intimate connection with men’s ritual, hallowed sites in their country and the Tjukurrpa (Dreaming).

EXHI015193
Kaapa Tjampitjinpa
Anmatyerr/Warlpiri c.1925-89
Men’s Ceremony for the Kangaroo, Gulgardi 1971
watercolour on plywood
61.0 x 137.0 cm
Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
Winner of the Caltex Art Award, 1971. Acquired by the Central Australian Art Society from the 1971 Caltex Art Award. Donated to the people of Alice Springs through the Alice Springs Town Council
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015286
Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra
Pintupi/Luritja born c.1932
Bush tucker story 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
72.0 x 77.0 cm
Hugo Le Roux Guthrie, Melbourne
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015289
Mick Wallangkarri Tjakamarra
Kukatja/Ngalia c.1905-96
Bush tucker story 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
72.0 x 77.0 cm
Hugo Le Roux Guthrie, Melbourne
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015291
Tutuma Tjapangati
Pintupi/Pitjantjatjara c.1909-87
One old man’s Dreaming 1971
earth pigments and synthetic polymer paint on composition board
63.0 x 44.4 cm
Beverly and Anthony Knight, Melbourne
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015301
Kaapa Tjampitjinpa
Anmatyerr/Warlpiri c.1925-89
Corroboree and body decoration 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
35.4 x 22.0 cm
Beverly and Anthony Knight, Melbourne
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015387
Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri
Pintupi c.1926-98
Family bush tucker Dreaming c.1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
50.0 x 50.9 cm
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, USA
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015398
Timmy Payungka Tjapangati
Pintupi c.1940-2000
Possum Dreaming for children 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
60.0 x 50.0 cm
Private collection
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015400

Namarari depicts the Bandicoot Dreaming at the site of Marakutju, a hill north of the Walungurru community. Here the ancestral bandicoot made a shelter by scraping at the ground, pulling all the spinifex grass into a nest with his claws and forming a type of roof with the grass. He then stretched out on his back with his limbs splayed. The work is emblematic of place and also embodies the movements of the bandicoot in constructing the shelter. It is identical in scale and subject to the artist’s major prize-winning entry in the 1991 National Aboriginal Art Award. The work reveals Namarari’s use of increasingly reduced visual motifs, which enable him to reach a conceptual distillation of elements that intersect when he thinks of particular places in his country.

Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri
Pintupi c.1926-98
Bandicoot Dreaming in the Marakutju area 1994
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
182.0 x 153.0 cm
Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, Melbourne
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015401
Uta Uta Tjangala
Pintupi c.1926-90
Women’s Dreaming 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
45.0 x 37.0 cm
Stephen Bush, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015407
John Tjakamarra
Pintupi c.1937-2002
Man’s Dreaming c.1971
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
50.5 x 50.0 cm
Private collection, Melbourne
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
EXHI015492
Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri
Anmatyerr born c.1927
Untitled 1971-72
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
117.0 x 33.5 cm
Australian Museum, Sydney
Purchased, 1983 (E079146)

© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists
EXHI015495
Nosepeg Tjupurrula
Pintupi c.1915-90
Emu Dreaming 1972
synthetic polymer paint on composition board
46.0 x 46.0 cm
Australian Museum, Sydney
Purchased, 1983
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd

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