MARNPI, 1994

Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art
6 October 2010

Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri

(c.1926 - 1998)
MARNPI, 1994

synthetic polymer paint on linen

122.0 x 183.0 cm

inscribed verso: artist's name, Papunya Tula Artists cat. MN940680


Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs
Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney (label attached verso)
Private collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

Undoubtedly one of the most important founding figures of the Papunya Tula movement, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri quietly revolutionized the genre over his 30 year career. As noted by Dick Kimber in his obituary to the artist in 1998, the remarkable breadth and virtuosity of Mick Namarari's practice may be grounded in the significant number of sites for which he was responsible. Along with fellow Pintupi painting veteran Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi, the work of Mick Namarari from the 1990s, whilst issuing from the work of the early 1970s, demonstrates a dynamism that mark them as contemporary practice.

Curator Hetti Perkins portrayed Mick Namarari's influence upon the movement thus: ‘The role of the artist is grounded in his or her relatedness to country, yet as Papunya Tula artists have shown us, the aesthetic expression of this relationship is not necessarily bound by the parameters of traditional design. Over time, Mick Namarari transformed Papunya Tula art, heralding a move away from Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri's gridlock patterns and the potent ancestral epics of Uta Uta Tjangala to the ethereal minimalism of the late 1980s and 1990s.'1

It is this period of celebrated later works to which Marnpi, 1994, belongs. Painted just four years before the artist's passing, Marnpi, is the final manifestation of a densely coded range of abstractions that refer to the artist's many stories. Like the related work Kangaroo Dreaming at Marnpi, 1988, from the Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, the work focuses on a central waterhole, encircled by ribbons of undulating silver tones. As Perkins notes, ‘In his last works, abstraction itself has come to embody the narrative, as for example in the bands of reverberant colour signifying the dingo story of Nyunmanu. It is paintings such as these that have earned Namarari an incomparable place in the history of Papunya Tula painting and Australian art.'2

1. Perkins, H., and Fink, H., Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000, p. 182
2. Ibid.