Important Australian Indigenous Art
22 March 2023


(1920 - 1990)

synthetic polymer paint on linen

139.0 x 121.0 cm

bears inscription verso: artist’s name, size and Papunya Tula Artists cat. UU851088

$40,000 – $60,000

Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne 
Private collection, Melbourne, acquired from the above in 1986

Catalogue text

There are recurring themes in the art of Uta Uta Tjangala and the best known of these relate to Yumari, a rock hole and important ancestral site in his mother's country. A sacred site located in between the communities of Walungurru (Kintore) and Kiwirrkura across the border in Western Australia, Yumari had personal significance for the artist. He was the custodian of this site which is linked to his conception place at Ngurrapalangu through the story of Yina, the ancestral travelling Old Man. His father is buried in the area, and it is a place he regarded as home in the sense of the Aboriginal connection to country – Yumari was integral to Tjangala’s personal identity.1

The title of the present painting, ‘Yumarinya’ has the literal meaning of ‘wife’s-mother’s-place’2, and is connected to the mythological story of Yina, the mythological Old Man. In this case, the Old Man travelled west from Henty Hills to Yumari, to engage in an illicit liaison with his ancestral mother-in-law.

One of the original band of artists that in 1971 initiated the revolution in Australian Aboriginal desert painting at the community of Papunya, Uta Uta Tjangala was a member of the Pintupi, the last group to be brought into the government run settlement. A man of high ritual status with deep ancestral knowledge, he created some of the great masterpieces of the modern Western Desert painting movement, from his first paintings on composition board to later monumental canvases produced in the 1980s. Two early major canvas works relate to this site, the first of which, Yumari, 1981, was exhibited at the XVII Biennale de São Paulo. This painting was also shown alongside Yumari, 1983, in Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia, the major exhibition that toured through the United States and Australia in 1988 – 89. Another painting related to the site is Old Man’s Dreaming, 1983, now in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, which was included in the exhibition Australia at the Royal Academy, London in 2013.

1. Myers, F.R., Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2002, pp. 112 – 3
2. Ibid.