© Cleared / image missing

On display on Level 1

Clifford POSSUM TJAPALTJARRI

Anmatyerr people

Australia 1932 – 2002

Bush-fire II 1972 Place made: Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on composition board Place Published: Johnson, V., 1994, The Art of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri,Gordon and Breach(and Craftsman House), Sydney; plate 6.

Dimensions: 61.0 h x 43.0 w cm framed (overall) 625 h x 452 w x 45 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1994
Accession No: NGA 94.1095
Image rights: © the estate of the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

When the artists at Papunya began to paint for the public domain in 1971 they were faced with a number of challenges and dilemmas. Chief amongst these was the notion of depicting sacred objects and designs that are, according to traditional law, not to be viewed by non-initiated people or outsiders. The dilemma they faced was that of producing paintings that would retain their cultural integrity and remain meaningful and significant to the artist and his people, yet would also be appropriate for public viewing. One strategy they developed was to reveal only the general interpretations of a painting—the ‘outside’ story—rather than the innermost secret meanings of the imagery. This strategy has now been adopted by Indigenous artists across Australia. Another device developed by the senior artists at Papunya was to emphasise particular elements of the visual lexicon.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarriwas one of the most innovative artists, developing images such as Bushfire II 1972. The work is about one of the artist’s favourite themes: the ancestral narrative of Lungkata the Blue-Tongued Lizard, who punished his two sons for not sharing their catch with him. Lungkata created the first bushfire that swept across the land and engulfed the boys at Warlugulong. The painting depicts the site where the bush- fire started—it features a series of roundels representing camps, and the tracks of an ancestral Possum. Tjapaltjarri has painted over parts of these designs with patches of dotting, representing clouds of smoke and ash, to suggest that the sacred/secret aspects of the painting are hidden from sight.

Wally Caruana


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

This painting refers to Warlugulong, the Anmatyerr name for a site 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, where Lungkata, the blue tongue lizard man, started a great bushfire, the ancestor of all bushfires, in which his two sons perished. He lit the fire to punish his sons, who had broken the law by eating a sacred kangaroo. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri had access to this subject through his mother and his cousin Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa. The painting depicts the site where the bushfire started, before it swept over a vast area to the south and west. In a burnt-out camp the possum prints and tracks are shown partly obliterated by charcoal and ash. The large dark areas of dotting signify burnt-out country, and the lighter areas ash.

Born at Napperby Station, north-west of Alice Springs, Tjapaltjarri lived in his ancestral Anmatyerr country until the final decades of his life. He was a traditional elder of his community. His paintings depict the ancestral totems for which he had cultural obligation and the mapping of his ancestral land. He was one of the most accomplished Western Desert artists of his time.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

The painting refers to Warlugulong, the Anmatyerr name for a site 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, where Lungkata, the blue-tongued lizard man, started a great bushfire (the ancestor of all bushfires) in which his two sons perished. He lit the fire to punish his sons, who had broken the law by not sharing their catch of kangaroo. The painting depicts the site where the bushfire started before it swept over a vast area to the south and west. In a burnt-out camp, possum prints and tracks are shown partly obliterated by charcoal and ash. The large dark areas of dotting signify burnt-out country; the lighter areas, ash.

The pictorial device of covering or masking sacred designs or symbols, as in this painting, serves as a visual metaphor to indicate the layers of meaning inherent within the painting: the ‘outside’ interpretations that are open to all, and the ‘inside’ meanings restricted to the initiated.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri had access to this subject through his mother and his cousin Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa; and it is one of the most important Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) stories for the artist’s Anmatyerr people. Born at Napperby Station, north-west of Alice Springs, Tjapaltjarri lived in his ancestral Anmatyerr country until the final decades of his life. He was a traditional elder of his community and his paintings depict the ancestral totems, for which he had cultural obligations, and the mapping of his ancestral land.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

克利福德•袋貂•加帕加瑞 (Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri)
《森林大火之二》(Bush-fire II)
1972年
澳大利亚北领地西部沙漠帕普尼亚
绘画,复合板材料,合成聚合物涂料
61.0(高) x 43.0 (宽)厘米
625(高) x 452 (宽) x 45 (深)毫米
1994年购买
收录号:NGA 94.1095
©土著艺术家协会(Aboriginal Artists Agency)特许的艺术家不动产

1971年,帕普尼亚艺术家开始为公共领域创作画作时,面临着为数众多的挑战与窘境,其中最大的障碍是描绘神圣物品和图案的概念,根据传统法律,非发起人或外人不得审视。绘画创作既要保留文化完整性以及对艺术家及族人的重要意义,还要适合于大众欣赏,让艺术家进退两难。他们由此发展了一项策略,仅仅展示一幅画作的一般解释,即‘外围’故事,而不是肖像深层的隐秘意义。这一策略现已被全澳大利亚的土著艺术家采纳。帕普尼亚资深艺术家发展的另一策略就是强调艺术学的特定要素。

克利福德•袋貂•加帕加瑞是最具创意的艺术家之一,发展的肖像包括创作于1972年的《森林大火之二》。画作涉及艺术家最喜欢的主题之一:关于先祖蓝舌蜥蜴朗卡塔(Lungkata)的故事,他的两个儿子没有将狩猎所得与父亲分享,从而遭到了他的惩罚。朗卡塔引发了第一场森林大火,大火席卷沃鲁古隆大地,将两个儿子吞噬。作品描绘了森林大火的起火点,画面重点呈现代表营地的系列小圆盘,以及一位袋貂先祖的足迹。加帕加瑞使用斑点修饰这些图案的外围部分,表现烟雾和灰烬,从而表明,画作的神圣/秘密方面隐于视线之外。

Wally Caruana
瓦里·卡鲁阿那


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Description

This is a painting by Anmatyerr artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri depicting the ancestral narrative of Lungkata the Blue-Tongued Lizard, who punished his two sons because they had broken the law by eating the sacred kangaroo. The painting is shown as an enlargeable image and in a video. Text onscreen gives information on the Papunya artists and the challenges they faced when producing art for the public domain. The video soundtrack provides strong visual analysis, exploring the ancestral being and Dreaming stories presented. The painting measures 61.0 cm high x 43.0 cm wide and was painted using synthetic polymer paint on composition board.

Educational value

  • This is an excellent resource for the Responding strand in the visual arts curriculum for students in the middle and upper primary school years, especially for those content descriptions that refer to considering the broader context of works of art, such as their social, cultural and historical context and role of the artist and of the audience/s. It may also be useful for teachers of history in years 3 and 4 particularly in relation to content descriptions about the importance of connection to Country for Aboriginal peoples.
  • The work is of considerable significance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. It exemplifies one of the priority’s organising ideas in relation to Aboriginal peoples: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have unique belief systems and are spiritually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways. The resource as a whole connects to another organising idea: Australia acknowledges the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people locally and globally. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932-2002) is recognised as one of Australia’s most accomplished Western Desert artists of his time.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra