Important Aboriginal Works of Art
25 May 2016


born c.1943

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

183.0 x 153.0 cm

bears inscription verso: artist’s name, size and Papunya Tula Artists cat. RT970567

$20,000 – 30,000
Sold for $24,400 (inc. BP) in Auction 43 - 25 May 2016, Melbourne

Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs
Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney
Gene and Brian Sherman collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

In a career spanning 40 years, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa is inimitable among Papunya Tula artists with his unique optical and mesmerising paintings of the Tingari ancestors. A founding member of Papunya Tula Artists and the youngest of the group of men who are credited with the start of the Western Desert art movement, Tjampitjinpa’s early painting output was limited as his focus was, rather, directed towards the outstation movement and the return of the Pintupi to their homelands in the Western Desert. With the establishment of Walungurru (Kintore) in 1981 however, Tjampitjinpa turned his attention to his art.

During the 1980s, he emerged as one of Papunya Tula’s major artists ‘pioneering the bold, scaled up, linear style that came to dominate many of the Walungurru painters work during the 1990s’,1 and by the end of the 1990s, he was a highly acclaimed painter, much admired for the bold, graphic qualities of his artwork.

Reductive in its composition, Tingari Cycle, 1997 epitomises well Tjampitjinpa’s approach. Large simplified roundels, the product of two decades of refinement, collide and push against one another creating tension that reinforces the power of the Tingari. To the top right the standard circular roundels have been replaced with squared elements, and the minimal palette of contrasting black and yellow hues further simplify and intensify the composition.

Tjampitjinpa won the Alice Prize in 1988, and his first solo exhibition was held at Gallery Gabriella Pizzi, Melbourne in 1989. He has been included in a number of seminal exhibitions of Aboriginal art including Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York, and touring 1988–1989; Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1993; Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2000, and more recently, in 2015, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa was the subject of a survey exhibition held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

His work is included in Australian and international collections, such as the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, and the Seattle Art Museum.

1. Johnson, V., ‘Ronnie Tjampitjinpa’, in Perkins, H., Tradition Today, Indigenous Art in Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2006, p. 140