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.

Kaapa Tjampitjinpa and the Caltex Art Award

Kaapa Tjampitjinpa was painting independently and selling his work before Geoffrey Bardon arrived to teach art at Papunya. In September 1971, judge Jo Caddy awarded Kaapa equal first prize with Jan Wesley Smith in the Caltex Art Award in Alice Springs for his Men's Ceremony for the Kangaroo, Gulgardi. Kaapa's work, with its pictorial elements and seductive delicacy of detail, is cultivated to appeal to the western gaze. It also recreates the dramatic spectacle of men participating in ceremony and creates an illusion of the third dimension.

Upon the announcement of Kaapa's historic win in this mainstream art award, a flurry of activity swept though Papunya and within a month, a large group of senior men had begun painting in the 'traditional manner'. It is the works produced in the Men's Painting Room, inspired by Kaapa and facilitated by Bardon, that signal the genesis of a new painting movement.

Related images

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