Australia 1926 /1930 – 1998
Five Women in the Kalipinypa Rain Dreaming Country
[Untitled (No.39)] 1972
Collection Title: The Peter Fannin Collection of Early Western Desert Paintings
Place made: Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer powder paint on composition board
Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi was known as a very quiet, stoic man who was born south-west of Lake Macdonald at Iltuturunga. Tjungurrayi, like many other Pintupi people, moved to Papunya with his family in 1963. Although many of the early artists who moved from their desert homelands to settlements like Papunya had very distinct memories of their first encounters with white people, they always maintained their law, culture and identity. Married to Ningura Napurrula, now another successful Papunya Tula artist, Tjungarrayi was one of the first wave of artists who painted for the cooperative when it began in 1971.
During the early years of the painting movement, Tjungurrayi was known for initiating the classical Tingari grid in paintings made for the public domain. The style consists of a matrix of concentric circles, usually indicating a site or camp, and connecting lines, representing travel. This style of composition was emulated and elaborated upon for two decades by other Pintupi artists, such as Anatjari Tjampitjinpa, until the more minimal style of painting came into favour among artists like George Tjungurrayi.
Although the story for Untitled has not been recorded, it features an elementary version of the Tingari grid structure in the sets of concentric circles joined by straight lines at the top and bottom of the painting. In the central section, the meandering verticals most likely represent running water, and the rectangular sections, rock sites or hills.
 It is said that, according to Tjungurrayi, the name ‘Gibbs’ was an abbreviation of ‘Gibson Desert’, where his traditional lands lie.
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