PUKARA, 2013

Aboriginal Art from the Luczo Family Collection
19 October 2016


PUKARA, 2013

SIMON HOGAN born c.1930
NED GRANT born c.1941
FRED GRANT born 1946
ROY UNDERWOOD born c.1928
HARRY BROWN born c.1957

synthetic polymer paint on linen

233.0 x 197.5 cm

bears inscription verso: artist’s names, date and Spinifex Arts Projects cat. SAPMC13149

$15,000 – 25,000
Sold for $11,590 (inc. BP) in Auction 45 - 19 October 2016, Melbourne

Spinifex Arts Projects, Tjuntjuntjara, Western Australia
Harvey Art Projects, Ketchum, Idaho, USA
The Luczo Family Collection, USA


Spinifex Art Project, Tjuntjuntjara Nguratja | Tjuntjuntjara is home, Harvey Art Projects, Ketchum, Idaho, USA, 1 July – 5 August 2014 (illus. in exhibition catalogue, front cover)

Catalogue text

This painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Spinifex Art ProjectsAustralia that states: ‘Eight senior men: Roy Underwood, Simon Hogan, Ned Grant, Fred Grant, Lennard Walker, Lawrence Pennington, Winmati Roberts and Harry Brown have collaborated on this painting which focuses on one of the most important and extensive stories from the Western Desert region.

While there are a number of Tjukurpa (mythological stories) present in this work which represent each man’s birthplace, the predominant story is Pukara, a powerful story that is connected to all of the men in some way. Pukara is the story of the two wanampi (water snake men), a father and his son who are traversing the country on initiation business causing grave concern on their travels owing to their intense and powerful presence. The son’s actions are dangerous given his status as a young initiate.

The Father and son have camped for the night but the young son is edgy and due to his dangerous and unpredictable mood his father is keeping a watchful eye on his son. However during the night his son steals away and heads across to Mulaya seeking vengeance on people who have been teasing him. At Mulaya another, older water snake confronts the young man and a fight begins. The younger man's father tracks his angry son and arrives in time to break up the fight and settle the son once more.

As they continue to travel across the country they are involved in a range of actions and events that have given rise to the geographical and mythological landscape of the Spinifex Country. Along this track made by the men from Pukara are other stories that come into play within this painting. To the south a large group of WatiKalaya (Emu men) are travelling on initiation business down through Ilkurlka meets the WatiKutjara story although the Emus know the snakes are busy and leave them alone. The Emus are eating mingkulpa (native tobacco).’

Pukara, 2013, is a major collaborative work of ancestral and historical significance by eight senior artists and community leaders, a number of who – Roy Underwood, Simon Hogan, Fred Grant, Lennard Walker and Lawrence Pennington – were founding members of the Spinifex Project in 1997, an initiative established to document their relationship to their traditional lands in a corner of the Great Victoria Desert, adjacent to the northern reaches of the Nullarbor Plain in Western Australia. Accordingly, these artists produced a series of paintings that were employed in Native Title hearings as ‘deeds of title’ to lands from which they had been forcibly removed in the early 1950s, to make way for atomic bomb testing. It was their first experience of contact with non-Aboriginal people. Pukara, 2013, is a reiteration by several of the original painters of the key painting in the Spinifex Project that goes by the same title and was painted in 1998.

Pukara is a foundation ancestral narrative that unites several language groups across vast areas of the southern and far western deserts. It relates the journey of a father and son who, in the guise of Wanampi (water snakes), travel across the land from Pukara towards the place where the son will be initiated. It is a tortuous journey and the son is involved in a fight with another, older Wanampi. Along the way they encounter a large group of WatiKalaya (Emu Men) who are heading towards their own initiation sites. Significantly, these events shape the landscape as it is today.