Australia 1926 – 1998
Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
This is an intriguing painting which was not documented by Papunya Tula Artists at the time of its making around 1975, nor was the identity of the artist recorded. It had been kept in the painting store at Papunya until Andrew Crocker took up the position of manager of the artists’ cooperative in 1980. Charlie Egalie Tjapaltjarri (c 1935–2002), one of the original members of Papunya Tula Artists, suggested that the painters would belong to the Pintupi group and they could well be either Timmy Payungka Tjapangarti or Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri. The canvas could also be a collaborative painting, judging by the differences in the application of the fields of dots between the upper and lower sections, suggesting two hands at work.
The upper section features the conventional Pintupi matrix of circular sites joined by straight travelling lines characteristic of designs relating to the Tingari ancestors. The lower half features the meandering lines normally associated with Water Dreamings, although they could refer to winds or even smoke from bushfires which are struck to clear the forests of debris, regenerate plant seeds or to flush out game such as kangaroos and possums. The meanders could also refer to underground watercourses. A line of kangaroo and possum tracks appears across the centre of the painting, moving from right to left.
In the 1970s and into the 1980s, both Payungka and Namarari had made paintings incorporating variations on this Tingari design in association with kangaroo and possums tracks laid down in a similar manner.
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