Australian Aboriginal Art is rooted in kinship. The first people of Australia have lived on the continent for at least 50,000 years and their connection to the land is well established before the arrival of White colonizers in 1788. The system of communication through Dreamtime depicted in the works in this exhibition tells these stories. The ancient rituals of body decoration, sand drawing, wood carving, and ceremony, are presented in these contemporary canvas paintings. These paintings carry important narratives of survival strategies, histories, map of countries, formation of physical and spiritual environments passed down from generations yet disguised in abstract patterns to protect their secret and sacred meanings.
We are pleased to present paintings by renown artists:
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1935-2002)
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri was born in roughly 1932 and is one of the most popular Aboriginal artists by collectors to this day. He was creating work before the Papunya Tula Movement, and his paintings stand out greatly from the many who also create within this style. Clifford is considered to be an artist who has brought together the worlds of Aboriginal Art and Contemporary Australian Art throughout his career, and has been recognized internationally for such accomplishments. He passed away in 2002 and was survived by his two daughters who are also artists.
Makinti Napanangka (1930-2011)
Makinti Napanangka was born in the Western Desert region of Australia as a member of the Pintupi indigenous group around the year 1930. Makinti started painting through a community project in the 1990s and her curiosity and interest grew into a successful painting career as her work is widely shown in Australia and internationally. She was a part of the Papunya Tula Artists Cooperative, and she particularly stood out as an independent artist. After her death in 2011, she has been often referred to as Kumentje, a name given to her due to the tradition of her indigenous community not referring to the deceased by their original names.
Minnie Pwerle (1920-2006)
Minnie Pwerle was born in Utopia, Northern territory in roughly 1915 and began her artistic career at about the age of 80 in 2000. In her short time of making work, she became an incredibly popular Aboriginal artist. Her paintings were so sought-after that she was allegedly kidnapped as a means for collectors to acquire her work. Throughout her career and to this day, Minnie’s work represents a generation of older artists with limited education and individuals who potentially experience poverty. Her paintings are bright, captivating, and have a spontaneous spirit. She continued to paint up until two days before she passed away in 2006.
Walangkura Napanangka (1940-2014)
Walangkura Napanangka was born west of Kintore by the borders of Western Australia and Northern Territory in 1946. At a young age her and her family traveled hundreds of kilometres on foot to live in a less remote environment, eventually moving into the Kintore community. In Kintore, she participated in a collaborative painting retreat in 1994 with many other women including Tjunkiya Napaltjarri which produced a large body of work about spirituality and ancestry. The women from this project became full-time artists and contributed greatly to the Papunya Tula movement. Walangkura Napanangka became one of the most prominent figures of this movement.
Tjunkiya Napaltjarri (1927-2009)
Tjunkiya Napaltjarri was born in Kitore, Northern Territory near the border of Western Australia in approximately 1927. Her husband, Toba Tjakamarra was the father of Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, an incredibly important figure in the art movement called Papunya Tula. Tjunkiya had ten children, and many of them painted and contributed to this art movement.
Tjunkiya came to painting through the Women’s Dreaming project in the 1990s. With many women including Walangkura Napanangka, she took part in a painting retreat in 1994 which resulted in a large body of collaborative work. She painted and performed greatly in collaboration after this time, much with her sister Wintjiya. Tjunkiya was painting and creating alongside her sister up until the final years of her life before she passed in 2009.
Mitjili Napurrula (1945-2019)
Mitjili Napurrula was born into a family that was important to the indigenous group of Papunya in roughly 1945. She started painting in 1993 with the Ikuntji Women’s Centre from the encouragement of her family. Her most frequent motif in her work is the watiya tjuta, (Acacia Trees) and they came from drawings that her mother used to create while also being inspired by the land of her father’s country Uwalki. Mitjili became internationally known for her use of bold colors in her graphic style to tell the stories of her people. She passed away in 2019 and is a prominent figure in Australian Aboriginal art.
George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi (1943-)
George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi was born around 1943 in the Gibson Desert of Western Australia and is known to be one of the original artists of the Aboriginal Art Movement. As a catalyst to the Papunya Art Movement and Aboriginal Art Movement, a mural that was painted on a school wall involved many in the community who eventually became painters. He began painting in 1976 when he was an apprentice for other artists and was encouraged to begin his own practice. George developed his own style through painting about his culture and drawing inspiration from traditional body paint. George became an incredibly sought-after artist by the late 1990s. His nickname “Hairbrush” derived from his wild hair that often appeared to need a brushing.
Charlie Gunbuna (1932-1996)