Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art
Early Western Desert Paintings 1971-1974 gallery See nearby items (accurate to +/- 12 hrs)


Pintupi people

Australia 1938 /1942 – 2000

Sandhill country west of Wilkinkarra, Lake Mackay [Secret sandhills (No.48)] 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 paint on composition board

Primary Insc: TIMMY JABANARDI 200 G4
Secondary Insc: Sold Fannin Cost + $5
Dimensions: 76.0 h x 52.0 w cm framed (overall) 807 h x 543 w x 45 d mm
Acknowledgement: The Peter Fannin Collection of Early Western Desert Paintings, 1998
Accession No: NGA 98.107
Image rights: © the estate of the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd
  • The use of fields of dots to mask sacred or secret designs was taken to its extreme early on in the Papunya painting movement. The dotting in acrylic paintings by desert artists has a number of sources. One is the often large ground mosaics made for ceremonies, which of themselves form one of the main templates for acrylic paintings. The ground paintings are constructed using a mixture of ochres and feather down or cotton-like pulped vegetable matter, known as wamulu, which is put down in small clumps, bit by bit, to form the lines of the designs. The translation of this technique onto flat portable painting surfaces has resulted in the use of painted dots. Similarly, the application of wamulu to the body of a ritual participant, and the use of dotting to decorate weapons and utensils such as wooden shields and carrying dishes, also influence modern paintings.

    In Sacred sandhills, Payungka has dispensed with any visible graphic icons or designs to create an image of a landscape that hums with the vibrancy of the ancestral forces that lie within the earth, and that vivify it. The horizontal lines that weave across the picture depict sandhills, while the lighter coloured areas represent spinifex. But this is no mundane landscape composed of sand, soil and grasses—rather, it is one that retains the powers of the ancestors who created it. Sacred sandhills is an early and extraordinary example of how desert artists can express these invisible forces in paint.

    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

  • Payungka was one of the very first Pintupi people to live at the newly-established government settlement of Papunya, west of Alice Springs, in about 1960. His traditional country lay far to the west near the Western Australian border. Payungka was also among the first artists to take up painting at Papunya in 1971. For the artists of the community, this was the first time their work was to be viewed by the public at large. Previously, artists were accustomed to painting in ceremonial circumstances where the audience was restricted in the main to initiated people.

    The first years of the painting movement at Papunya went through a number of stylistic phases, from the use of naturalistic images to conventional designs such as concentric circles and meandering lines. Some artists employed fields of dotted paint, in imitation of the technique of applying paint to the large ritual ground mosaics, sometimes to disguise the more sacred or secret design elements. The technique flourished during the time Peter Fannin was the manager of the Papunya Tula Artists Cooperative, from 1972 to 1975. It is taken to an eloquent extreme in this work, which depicts horizontal ridges of sandhills covered by fields of vegetation. This painting was in fact collected by Fannin.

    Wally Caruana 2002

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002

  • 蒂米·裴扬卡·加潘加瑞 (Timmy Payungka Tjapangarti)
    《威尔金卡拉以西的沙丘地,麦基湖》(Sandhill country west of Wilkinkarra, Lake Mackay)
    76.0(高) x 52.0 (宽)厘米
    807 (高) x 543 (宽) x 45 (深)毫米
    收录号:NGA 98.107


    《神圣的沙丘》(Sacred sandhills)中,裴扬卡免去了一切的图像图标,以营造景色图,画面充斥着藏于泥土中祖先力量的活力,并被赋予了盎然生机。横贯画面的水平波纹线描绘的是沙丘,而颜色较浅的区域代表三齿稃。但这绝不是由沙丘、泥土和草构成的平凡景象,相反,它留住了祖先缔造者的力量。《神圣的沙丘》属于早期的杰出代表,解释了沙漠艺术家如何能够使用画笔表达这些无形的力量。

    Wally Caruana

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra