Important Australian Indigenous Art
22 March 2023


(c.1932 - 2002)

synthetic polymer paint on linen

51.0 x 41.5 cm

$15,000 – $20,000
Sold for $13,500 (inc. BP) in Auction 73 - 22 March 2023, Melbourne

Purchased by the artist Tim Johnson, directly from the artist while working for Papunya Tula artists in 1981
Tim and Vivien Johnson collection, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney


Dreamings: Art of Aboriginal Australia, Asia Society Galleries, New York; David Smart Gallery, Chicago, 6 October – 31 December 1988; Natural History Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, 1988 – 89, cat. 51 (as ‘Man’s Love Story’, label attached verso)
The Painted Dream: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings from the Tim and Vivien Johnson Collection, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, 28 March – 2 June 1991; Te Whare Taonga o Aotearoa National Art Gallery and Museum, Wellington, 13 July – 8 September 1991  
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri Retrospective Tour, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 31 October 2003 - 26 January 2004; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 24 March - 3 May 2004; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 14 May - 11 July 2004; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 7 August - 24 October 2004, cat. 30 (label attached verso)


Sutton, P., Dreamings: Art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries and South Australian Museum in association with Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Melbourne, 1988, fig. 149, cat. 51, pp. 107, 109 (illus.), 224 – 225  
Johnson, V., The Painted Dream, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, 1990, p. 23 (illus., as ‘Man’s Love Story’)
Johnson, V., The Art of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Craftsman House G+B International, Sydney, 1994, cat. 30, pp. 134, 136, 137 (illus.), 240 (illus.)

Catalogue text

This painting depicts Clifford Possum's very distinctive Love Story design. A Tjungurrayi man is shown at the site Ngarlu. He has fallen in love with a Napangardi woman of the wrong kinship subsection for marriage to him. Using the spindle on which he spins hair string, he entices the woman to his campsite, ‘talking with his thoughts on the wind.’ The hair string spindle is shown coming from the central roundel. His footprints are depicted on the left of the painting and his hair is blown away in the wind as he is distracted by her approach, shown on the right. In the lower half of the painting a curved line represents some Nungarrayi women who approached and gathered in the darkness around the lovers’ campsite. This mythology and the associated law are taught to post-initiate young men in ceremonies known as ‘Malliera’.